Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie

Highest Rated: 94% The Hole (1962)

Lowest Rated: 89% A Great Day in Harlem (1994)

Birthday: Oct 21, 1917

Birthplace: Cheraw, South Carolina, USA

One of the guiding figures of bebop, trumpeter Dizzy (John Burks) Gillespie took jazz to new levels of compositional sophistication. At the same time, his exuberant stage presence helped make the music accessible and made him a beloved performer. Born in South Carolina, Gillespie was a self-taught musician. He attended prep school on a music scholarship and got his first music job, with the Frank Fairfax orchestra, at age 18. After other freelance jobs he wound up with Cab Calloway in 1939, at that point still emulating his musical hero Roy Eldridge. However he started to develop a more original style, which didn't help him with Calloway-who called his improvisations "Chinese music" and fired him. Gillespie's stabbing Calloway in the leg during a post-show argument clearly didn't help. Freed from Calloway, Gillespie began a period of productive jamming which found him in the company of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. His adventurous pieces were initially a tougher sell in the swing era, and his use of Afro-Cuban influences likewise stood him apart. By 1942 he'd written three signature pieces: "Woody'n[ You," "Salt Peanuts" and "A Night in Tunisia." The first of these was recorded in 1944 by Coleman Hawkins, leading a band that included Max Roach and Gillespie; this is considered the first bebop recording. Gillespie worked to popularize bebop, notably in a now-legendary New York Town Hall concert on June 22, 1945 with Parker, Roach and others. By 1946 bebop had largely displaced swing in popularity and Gillespie's bands would introduce numerous giants including John Coltrane, Milt Jackson and Kenny Clarke. With his tastes shifting more strongly to Afro-Cuban jazz, Gillespie formed a large orchestra that lasted into the early '50s and produced two further standards, "Manteca" and "Tin Tin Deo." Around this time his trumpet was accidentally damaged in a party for his wife, causing its bell to turn upward; Gillespie liked the sound and the modified horn became a trademark. The decline of bebop in the early '50s brought an end to Gillespie's most creative period; however he remained a revered elder statesman of jazz for decades afterward. He formed the United Nation Orchestra-his own creation, not that of the United Nations-in 1981 and kept it afloat until 1992. He received numerous honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, and even appeared on one major pop hit, Stevie Wonder's "Do I Do." During 1989 he did a wholly improvised trumpet/drums tour with Max Roach, which comprised one of his final albums. 1992 brought one of his final public appearances, at the second world congress of the Baha'I faith which Gillespie had adopted in 1968. A concert for his 75th birthday was held at Carnegie Hall on November 26, 1992, however Gillespie was suffering with pancreatic cancer and couldn't attend. He died two months later at his home in Englewood, New Jersey.

Highest rated movies

Filmography

Movies

Credit
No Score Yet No Score Yet Barry Harris - Spirit of Bebop Unknown (Character) - 2000
89% 71% A Great Day in Harlem Unknown (Character) - 1994
No Score Yet No Score Yet Winter in Lisbon Bill Swann (Character) - 1991
No Score Yet No Score Yet A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba Self - 1988
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Cosmic Eye Unknown (Character) - 1986
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Cosmic Eye The Musicians/Father Time (Voice) - 1971
94% 97% The Hole voice (Voice) - 1962
No Score Yet No Score Yet Jivin' in Bebop Self - 1946

TV

Credit
No Score Yet No Score Yet Frank's Place Unknown (Guest Star) 1988
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Cosby Show Unknown (Guest Star) 1984
No Score Yet No Score Yet What's My Line? Guest 1972-1973 1968

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