Dizzy Gillespie

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dizzy Gillespie in December 1955, photo by Carl van Vechten
Dizzy Gillespie, 1991

Dizzy Gillespie (spoken: gɪˈlɛspi; born October 21, 1917 in Cheraw , South Carolina ; † January 6, 1993 in Englewood , New Jersey ; actually John Birks Gillespie ) was an American jazz musician ( trumpeter ), composer , singer , arranger and Band leader . Gillespie is one of the pioneers of bebop alongside Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker .


Gillespie was born one of the younger of ten children and was supported and encouraged in his musical development by his father, a construction worker and local amateur band leader. At the age of four he played the piano , then he learned the slide trombone by himself and before he was twelve he switched to the trumpet . He received a scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina but soon left school to become a full-time musician.

At a young age Gillespie played in numerous Swing - big bands : In 1935 he was in Philadelphia hired by Frank Fairfax, which he left shortly thereafter. He toured Europe with Teddy Hill's band . Gillespie was a wanderer and played from 1939 to 1941 with Cab Calloway - who called his adventurous solos "Chinese music" - with Chu Berry and Cozy Cole , among others , until he was kicked out of the band in an argument with Calloway. In 1942 he played in the Earl Hines Orchestra with Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine , while arranging pieces for Jimmy Dorsey and playing in Duke Ellington's band . Also in the development of bebop, he played an important role in experimental jam sessions with Thelonious Monk , Kenny Clarke , Charlie Parker and others in Minton's Playhouse in Harlem from 1941. Eckstine band newly formed , which are mostly from the band Hines emerged, was charged with Parker, Gillespie and Vaughan from 1944 the first band to play this new style. In 1944 he played in Oscar Pettiford's quintet Bebop at the Onyx Club and in the same year also made recordings with Coleman Hawkins with the quintet . From 1944 to 1945 he had his first combo with Parker in Three Deuces and Spotlite.

In 1945 he recorded his first historical bebop records with the Guild music label . A year later he founded his own orchestra, the " Dizzy Gillespie Big Band ", in which jazz greats such as Kenny Clarke , John Lewis , Milt Jackson , James Moody and John Coltrane played. With this composition he toured the United States, France and Belgium in early 1948 . In his work as a band leader he was able to transfer new jazz trends into a big band context. In 1950 he broke up the group for financial reasons and mainly played with small information. Occasionally, however, he put together big bands with whom he also went on tour. In the last years of his life he appeared several times with the "United Nation Orchestra" which he founded, in which not only former companions, but also students of his participated.

Gillespie ran for US President in 1964 ; However, with the catchy slogan “I'm running for president because we need one”, he was unsuccessful. A illegitimate daughter comes from a liaison with the songwriter Connie Bryson, Jeanie Bryson , an American jazz singer.


Dizzy Gillespie with drummer Bill Stewart at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in 1984

In the 1940s and 1950s, Gillespie was - also outwardly - the epitome of the smart, hip jazz intellectual ( hipster ). During this time he was also one of the first American jazz musicians to incorporate Latin American , Afro-Cuban and African elements into their compositions and improvisations. In quick succession he played with Chano Pozo , Lalo Schifrin , José Mangual Sr. , Mongo Santamaría and other specialists in Afro-Cuban and Latin American sounds. In later years he was a friend and promoter of younger Cuban talents such as Arturo Sandoval and Gonzalo Rubalcaba . Gillespie's opposition to racism led him to believe in the Baha'i , whose ideals attracted him and whose religion he adopted around 1970, which changed his lifestyle and public appearance. The “clown of bebop” became a serious musician who also campaigned for political goals, but without becoming politically active. In 1988 he founded the "United Nation Orchestra", with which he toured Egypt , Morocco and a little later Canada and South America .

Dizzy Gillespie 1988

His role as an integrating figure in jazz began as early as the 1950s when, after successes in Europe (e.g. Pleyel concerts in Paris in 1948 ) and appearances at “Jazz at the Philharmonic” in 1955, the State Department gave him the opportunity to do one To form big band, with which he went on a world tour until 1958 (his appearance in Athens in 1956 helped to reduce the anti-American tensions that had built up due to the Cyprus conflict and thus paid off for his financiers). After playing mostly in smaller combos in the 1960s, when he also worked with thirdstream composers such as Lalo Schifrin and Gunther Schuller , he went with the Jazz Giants ( Sonny Stitt , Thelonious Monk , Art Blakey and others) toured Europe and Australia and undertook a major Africa tour in 1973.

Dizzy Gillespie is one of the most popular figures in jazz, and musicians such as Miles Davis , Thad Jones and Kenny Dorham cited him as an important influence. Woody Herman called him a "jazz giant". Many of his pieces such as A Night in Tunisia , Groovin 'High and Woody' n You are among the jazz standards today . His trademark is the trumpet with its bell that is bent 45 degrees upwards (see photo) and its characteristic bulging cheeks, a phenomenon for which medicine has even created a technical term: "Gillespie pouch".

The musician Gillespie is recognized today in several ways: “as a sound visionary” who also developed “a completely individual virtuosity on the trumpet, as a composer, arranger and bandleader, as a singer with incomparable bebop vocals and as the staging of a highly explosive mixture of jazz and Afro-Cuban music. "

His autobiography , To Be or not to Bop , which he wrote together with Al Fraser, was published in 1979 by Doubleday . In 1985 John Holland made a film about a guest appearance in Havana ("Dizzy Gillespie - a Night in Havana" 1988).

He gave his last public concert in February 1992 in Seattle . In 1993, the year he died, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters .


'78 shellac record by singer Joe Carroll with the Dizzy Gillespie Band: Lady Be Good on the short-lived label Dee Gee

As a front man

As a band member

With Benny Carter

With Arnett Cobb

With CTI All Stars

With Duke Ellington

With Quincy Jones

With Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich

With Mike Longo

With the Manhattan Transfer

With Carmen McRae

With Charles Mingus

With Katie Bell Nubin

With Oscar Peterson

With Mongo Santamaría

With Woody Shaw

  • Woody Shaw and Friends at Monterey Jazz Festival 1979 ( Concord Jazz , 1979)

With Lillian Terry

  • Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be ... Oo, Oo ... Oo, Oo ( Black Saint , 1985)

With Randy Weston

With Louie Louie



  • 1983 Jazz in America (Embassy)
  • 1986 In Redondo Beach / Jazz in America (Embassy)
  • 1991 Dizzy Gillespie: A Night in Tunisia (VIEW)
  • 1993 Live in London (Culture Video)
  • 1998 Dizzy Gillespie & Charles Mingus (Vidjazz)
  • 1998 Dizzy Gillespie: Ages (Vidjazz)
  • 1999 Jazz Casual: Dizzy Gillespie (Rhino)
  • 2001 Jivin'in Be-Bop (Jazz Classic Video)
  • 2001 Dizzy Gillespie: A Night in Chicago (VIEW)
  • 2001 Live at the Royal Festival Hall 1987 (Pioneer)
  • 2002 Live in Montreal (Image)
  • 2003 20th Century Jazz Masters
  • 2003 Swing Era (with Mel Tormé ) (Idem)
  • 2005 Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux: Presents Dizzy Gillespie Sextet '77 (Eagle Vision USA)
  • 2005 Summer Jazz Live at New Jersey 1987 (FS World Jazz / Alpha Centauri Entertainment)
  • 2005 A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba (New Video Group) (Filmed in 1985 with Arturo Sandoval and Sayyd Abdul Al Khabyyr )
  • 2006 Jazz Icons: Live in '58 & '70 (Universal)
  • 2008 London Concerts 1965 & 1966 (Impro-Jazz Spain)


Compositions (excerpt)

Dizzy Gillespie with Tadd Dameron , Hank Jones and Mary Lou Williams , around June 1946, photographer William P. Gottlieb


  • Gillespie, Al Frazer: To Be Or Not… To Bop. Memoirs . Hannibal, Vienna 1988, ISBN 3-85445-018-4 (German edition, original by Doubleday, Garden City / New York 1979, Da Capo 1985)
  • Studs Terkel : giants of jazz . Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt 2005 ISBN 3-86150-723-4
  • Jürgen Wölfer: Dizzy Gillespie. His life, his music, his records. Oreos, Schaftlach 1987, ISBN 3-923657-16-1
  • Alyn Shipton: Groovin High - the life of Dizzy Gillespie . Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-19-514410-4
  • Raymond Horricks: Dizzy Gillespie and the Bebop Revolution . Hippocrene Books, 1984
  • Arrigo Polillo: Jazz . Piper 1994

Web links

Commons : Dizzy Gillespie  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. He is said to have waved behind Calloway's back to the audience and, according to Berendt (“Jazz Book”), even threw balls of paper at him. When Calloway confronted him in the cloakroom, there were supposed to have been violent arguments.
  2. Joelle Ulrich: Diz for President! ( Memento of the original from March 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ARD Radio Festival 2012 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.ard.de
  3. Alyn Shipton: Groovin 'High . Google book
  4. Christopher Buck: The Interracial “Baha'i Movement” and the Black Intelligentsia: The Case of WEB Du Bois . In: Journal of Religious History , Vol. 36, No. December 4, 2012: 542-562
  5. Hans-Jürgen Schaal Renewer and Entertainer Jazzzeitung 10/2002
  6. Members: Dizzy Gillespie. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 31, 2019 .
  7. Dizzy Gillespie - Album Discography - AllMusic .
  8. Artist: Gillespie, Dizzy: VIEW DVD Listing . View.com. Retrieved October 20, 2010.