(musician, born October 21, 1917, Cheraw, South Carolina; died January
With his great ballooning cheeks and trademark trumpet's
bell upturned at a 45-degree angle, Dizzy Gillespie easily has the most
recognizable face in jazz.
He is also easily one of the most influential figures
in that most American of musical forms, having first revolutionized
jazz in the 40s by being one of the acknowledged inventors of bebop;
and then again in the decades that followed when he championed the rich
rhythms of Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, and Brazilian music that, to a large
extent, still dominate jazz to this very day.
Born John Birks Gillespie, Dizzy moved to Philadelphia
with his family at age 18 and joined Frankie Fairfax's band before moving
on to New York City and Teddy Hill's big band in 1937, Later he played
with all the greats--Ella Fitzgerald. Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton,
Earl Hines, and Billie Holliday. He met saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker
in 1940 and soon was jamming with Parker, Thelonious Monk, and others.
Video and Audio
Listen to an excerpt of the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band - "Round Midnight"
Listen to an excerpt of the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band - "Ray's Idea"