Jazz stars: Dizzy Gillespie
For the 105th birth anniversary of virtuoso jazz trumpeter, vocalist, composer, arranger, band and orchestra leader, pioneer of modern improvisational jazz (together with Charlie Parker he founded the bebop style) Dizzy Gillespie. The museum Sound Library features composition "Champion" performed by the Dizzy Gillespie Sextet -- D. Gillespie (trumpet and piano), A. Johnson (tenor saxophone), J. Johnson (trombone), M. Jackson (piano and vibraphone), P. Heath (double bass) and A. Blakey (percussion).
Dizzy Gillespie (birth name John Birks Gillespie, 21.10.1917-06.01.1993), the youngest of nine children, grew up in a musical family and started playing the piano at the age of 4. The future great jazzman picked up the trombone and trumpet at the age of 12. He was nicknamed 'Dizzy' when he was a child for his penchant for mischievous pranks and eccentric escapades, shocking those around him. At the age of 15, the boy was admitted to the North Carolina Laurinburg Afro-American Community College, where he studied theory of music, musical harmonics as well as playing jazz trombone.
Dizzy Gillespie started his musical career in the nightclubs of Philadelphia, performing as the third trumpet player in the band of Frank Fairfax. After moving to New York, he became a member of Teddy Hill Harlem Orchestra. He shocked the Admission committee showing up at the audition in the coat and gloves unaccustomed to musicians. Had it not been for his virtuoso mastery of the instrument, Teddy Hill might have denied his admission. In the future, Gillespie will surprise, shock and even irritate many more times with his style and manner of performance. In 1939, the musician joined the orchestra of Cab Calloway. During his time in the orchestra, Dizzy started writing music for big bands. The musician was standing at the origins of emerging fusion and the infiltration of Afro-Cuban rhythms into jazz in the 1940s. By this time Gillespie gained prominence with his 'dizzying' mastery of passing technique (his nickname 'Dizzy' took on a new meaning) and his music-playing, unusual for swing fans - nervously impulsive, explosive, with twists and turns of the melody, sudden accents and pauses and complicated harmonic structure.
The term “bebop” is associated with Dizzy Gillespie, having emerged as a mode of singing a melody without words. The musician used to compose many new complex speed tunes and did not have time to name them all, so he announced them to musicians with a set of syllables like "di-da-pa-da-n-di-bop", which the public and the press picked up as a designation of the new style.
In the summer of 1942, Dizzy Gillespie formed a quartet in Philadelphia - the first bop ensemble in jazz history with white musician playing the drum. Lately, the same year Gillespie joined the Earl Hine Orchestra, where there were many yet unknown supporters of the nascent bebop style (Charlie Parker, Benny Harris, Billy Eckstine), seeking to update the traditional musical language of jazz. In 1964, Dizzy Gillespie nominated himself as a candidate for President of the United States. His election agenda included commitment, if elected, rename the White House to "The House of Blues" and appoint Duke Ellington as US Secretary of State.
From the mid-60s, Gillespie marshaled together the Reunion Big Band periodically. In parallel, playing regularly in small bands, he performed at many singing festivals and presented jazz style musicians at the White House three times. In 1970, Dizzy Gillespie accepted Baha'i Faith, the aim of which was the unity of all people without regard to color or nation. The role of Dizzy Gillespie in Baha'i Faith was so significant that the New York Baha'i Centre still hosts jazz concerts in his honour. During the 70s, Dizzy performed in various star-spangled musical ensembles. In 1980s, Dizzy Gillespie headed big bands "Dream Band", "United Nations Orchestra". In 1989, Gillespie gave 300 concerts in 27 countries of the world and 31 states of the USA, was crowned as a tribal chief of Nigeria, received his honorary doctorate of the 14th degree (this time from Boston's Berklee College of Music). The same year he was bestowed with the rank of Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the French Republic and the Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. Dizzy Gillespie star was laid in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Dizzy Gillespie died of pancreatic cancer on the night of 6 January 1993 and was buried in a cemetery in Queens, New York. According to his will, there were two funeral ceremonies: one was Bahá'í, the other, open to the general public, was in the Episcopal Church cathedral.
Dizzy Gillespie lived the entertaining and creative life, leае rich musical legacy. One of the greatest trumpeters in jazz history, a pioneer of bebop and Afro-Cuban jazz, the leader of the most famous big bands in the USA, and an extraordinary showman - all this fully fits his title as a jazz giant.