I was watching this amazing video below (the “United Nations Orchestra”) of master jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and a friend commented that because he lived until the age of 75, he didn’t get the same iconic status as Charlie Parker. We couldn’t see him as the true jazz prophet he actually was, because we saw him grow into an old man who wore bad suits! That made me laugh and also ponder this particular jazz icon.
I have to agree there is something about musicians who died tragically young that leave a mythic quality to their legacy. Dizzy Gillespie lived a long life, was married to the same woman his entire life until death, so there was no drama surrounding wild drug days or stories of womanizing as with many legendary musicians, just pure love of music.
Born John Birks Gillespie, he was nicknamed Dizzy because of his on-stage antics. Gillespie was in fact one of the most important and influential musicians of the 20th century. He was the creator of two extremely important movements in jazz – bebop and Afro-Cuban jazz. An important album seems to be Dizzy Gillespie’s Afro which features all the important compositions he made famous. He was a teacher to both Miles Davis and Arturo Sandoval, legends in their own right. Here is the United Nations Orchestra performance that is just pure magic featuring Gillespie’s famous (and one of my favorite songs of all times) composition, “A Night In Tunisia”:
Dizzy Gillespie spanned the generations…It’s just awe inspiring the people he worked with including Louis Armstrong:
Here is a 1982 performance of the Chano Pozo composition “Manteca” performed by Dizzy Dillespie’s “Dream” Band and features the trumpet legend having a good ole time.
Dizzy Gillespie including Stan Getz and Max Roach play “Bebop”:
This is a beautiful, performance by the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet “Tin Tin Deo” – sweet, stripped down melodic slow jazz….ahhh it’s like a five minute vacation: