Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy 93rd Birthday Dizzy Gillespie! 10/21/17- 1/6/1993

Dizzy Gillespie once said, "My Father made me a rebel against everybody but him." Because his Dad was a musician, picking up an instrument was second nature to Dizzy. His unique style of performing, with the big cheeks and comedic timing really was authentic. He was an original.

Dizzy made his way from Cheraw, South Carolina to Philladelphia, with his family - one of 9 children - when he was 14.
It was in 1937 when the great Cuban trumpeter Mario Bauza took Dizzy to hear the Latin sounds of Spanish Harlem and Dizzy fell in love with it. Eventually Dizzy, along with Charles Mingus, Stan Getz stepped up the Big Band game with amazing sounds and created a movement that caused multiple revolutions w/ Be-Bop and Afro-Cuban music. According to composer and jazz theorist George Russell, "Be-Bob was uneasy music, meant to shake people up."

Donald Maggin wrote a book entitled, Dizzy: The Life and Time of John Birkes Gillespie. According to Mr. Maggin, Dizzy blew that trumpet, which someone accidentally sat on at his wife's birthday, and he didn't want to upset his wife by not performing, so, making lemonade out of lemons, he rocked that Trumpet, which, as a result, tilted upwards at an angle of 45°, becoming his signature instrument - it was magic!

His contemporaries - Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles " Bird" Parker, Cab Calloway, Kenny Clark, Sonny Rollins wrapped sound around your senses and couldn't help but seep into your very soul.

Ever since I was a child, I loved Jazz. I was so young and didn't realize how fortunate I was to know Dizzy Gillespie. The last time that I got a chance to spend time with him, was when he was visiting the West Coast back in 1985. I was the baby of the bunch, back stage watching Dizzy as he got ready for a performance at the Henry J, Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, CA. It was a fund raising event for the East Oakland Development Foundation. The late Jerry Dean ( KJAZ emcee) emceed that night. Dizzy, Max Roach, Nancy Wilson were on the Markquee. Everyone was still celebrating Dizzy's Birthday, and so there was a party for Dizzy after the concert. It was an amazing night!( If you were there, shoot me a note please)

I loved Caravan, Salt Peanuts and A Night in Tunisia. What were some of your favorites by Dizzy Gillespie?

Do yourself a favor and get to know Dizzy Gillespie - Read:
To Be or Not to Bop - Memoirs - Dizzy Gillespie w/ Al Frazier
Dizzy: The Life and Time of John Birkes Gillespie - Donald Maggin
Also, check out NPR radio - The Lasting Impact of Dizzy Gillespie
photo property of - just - John Birkes "Dizzy" Gillespie

Love, C

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