Oct 21, 2017
Someone on my Facebook feed recently lamented that while we have had epic celebrations of the Birthday Centennials this year of Ella Fitzgerald and Thelonious Monk, the fact that this is Dizzy Gillespie’s Birthday Centennial seems to have gone under the radar. It’s been suggested that the heartbreaking story of his friend Charlie Parker, culminating in Bird’s early death, has pushed Gillespie to the back burner when most folks think about be-bop and that great period of jazz exploration. Allow me to be one of the first to correct that omission:
Born John Birks Gillespie on October 21, 1917, “Dizzy” helped create the sound we call Be-Bop with his running mate Parker in the 1930’s. He became a crucial figure in jazz, known as much for his onstage antics, bent trumpet and expanded cheeks as his unique sound and approach to music, most particularly the art of soloing.
Later, he would be one of the first to give Latin Jazz wider exposure, particularly what became known as “Afro-Cuban” jazz. Timeless Gillespie compositions such as “Manteca,” “Guachi Guaro (Soul Sauce),” and of course “A Night in Tunisia,” show how important he was to this sound.
Dizzy eventually became an ambassador for jazz, touring the world on behalf of the United States to share his music, and learn from other musicians and cultures. He died at the age of 75, but his legacy continues. The Jon Faddis-led Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars Band, whose rotating membership celebrates his life and music plays on and on.
Trumpeter and educator Ted Chubb re-joins us for Podcast 594, as he talks about Dizzy’s career, music and importance in jazz history. Musical selections include:
“Manteca” from At Newport
“Oo-Yah-Koo” from The Complete RCA Vicreturns to SNC tor Recordings
“Salt Peanuts” from The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever – Jazz at Massey Hall
“Con Alma” from Bird Songs