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Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz were huge. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time (some would say the best), Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ended up copying Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis' emergence in the 1970s that Dizzy's style was successfully recreated. Somehow, Gillespie could make any "wrong" note fit, and harmonically he was ahead of everyone in the 1940s, including Charlie Parker. Unlike Bird, Dizzy was an enthusiastic teacher who wrote down his musical innovations and was eager to explain them to the next generation, thereby insuring that bebop would eventually become the foundation of jazz.

Dizzy Gillespie was also one of the key founders of Afro-Cuban (or Latin) jazz, adding Chano Pozo's conga to his orchestra in 1947, and utilizing complex poly-rhythms early on. The leader of two of the finest big bands in jazz history, Gillespie differed from many in the bop generation by being a masterful showman who could make his music seem both accessible and fun to the audience. With his puffed-out cheeks, bent trumpet (which occurred by accident in the early '50s when a dancer tripped over his horn), and quick wit, Dizzy was a colorful figure to watch. A natural comedian, Gillespie was also a superb scat singer and occasionally played Latin percussion for the fun of it, but it was his trumpet playing and leadership abilities that made him into a jazz giant.

The youngest of nine children, John Birks Gillespie taught himself trombone and then switched to trumpet when he was 12. He grew up in poverty, won a scholarship to an agricultural school (Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina), and then in 1935 dropped out of school to look for work as a musician. Inspired and initially greatly influenced by Roy Eldridge, Gillespie (who soon gained the nickname of "Dizzy") joined Frankie Fairfax's band in Philadelphia. In 1937, he became a member of Teddy Hill's orchestra in a spot formerly filled by Eldridge. Dizzy made his recording debut on Hill's rendition of "King Porter Stomp" and during his short period with the band toured Europe. After freelancing for a year, Gillespie joined Cab Calloway's orchestra (1939-1941), recording frequently with the popular bandleader and taking many short solos that trace his development; "Pickin' the Cabbage" finds Dizzy starting to emerge from Eldridge's shadow. However, Calloway did not care for Gillespie's constant chance-taking, calling his solos "Chinese music." After an incident in 1941 when a spitball was mischievously thrown at Calloway (he accused Gillespie but the culprit was actually Jonah Jones), Dizzy was fired.

By then, Gillespie had already met Charlie Parker, who confirmed the validity of his musical search. During 1941-1943, Dizzy passed through many bands including those led by Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet, Fess Williams, Les Hite, Claude Hopkins, Lucky Millinder (with whom he recorded in 1942), and even Duke Ellington (for four weeks). Gillespie also contributed several advanced arrangements to such bands as Benny Carter, Jimmy Dorsey, and Woody Herman; the latter advised him to give up his trumpet playing and stick to full-time arranging.

Dizzy ignored the advice, jammed at Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's Uptown House where he tried out his new ideas, and in late 1942 joined Earl Hines' big band. Charlie Parker was hired on tenor and the sadly unrecorded orchestra was the first orchestra to explore early bebop. By then, Gillespie had his style together and he wrote his most famous composition "A Night in Tunisia." When Hines' singer Billy Eckstine went on his own and formed a new bop big band, Diz and Bird (along with Sarah Vaughan) were among the members. Gillespie stayed long enough to record a few numbers with Eckstine in 1944 (most noticeably "Opus X" and "Blowing the Blues Away"). That year he also participated in a pair of Coleman Hawkins-led sessions that are often thought of as the first full-fledged bebop dates, highlighted by Dizzy's composition "Woody'n You."

1945 was the breakthrough year. Dizzy Gillespie, who had led earlier bands on 52nd Street, finally teamed up with Charlie Parker on records. Their recordings of such numbers as "Salt Peanuts," "'Shaw Nuff," "Groovin' High," and "Hot House" confused swing fans who had never heard the advanced music as it was evolving; and Dizzy's rendition of "I Can't Get Started" completely reworked the former Bunny Berigan hit. It would take two years for the often frantic but ultimately logical new style to start catching on as the mainstream of jazz. Gillespie led an unsuccessful big band in 1945 (a Southern tour finished it), and late in the year he traveled with Parker to the West Coast to play a lengthy gig at Billy Berg's club in L.A. Unfortunately, the audiences were not enthusiastic (other than local musicians) and Dizzy (without Parker) soon returned to New York.

The following year, Dizzy Gillespie put together a successful and influential orchestra which survived for nearly four memorable years. "Manteca" became a standard, the exciting "Things to Come" was futuristic, and "Cubana Be/Cubana Bop" featured Chano Pozo. With such sidemen as the future original members of the Modern Jazz Quartet (Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Ray Brown, and Kenny Clarke), James Moody, J.J. Johnson, Yusef Lateef, and even a young John Coltrane, Gillespie's big band was a breeding ground for the new music. Dizzy's beret, goatee, and "bop glasses" helped make him a symbol of the music and its most popular figure. During 1948-1949, nearly every former swing band was trying to play bop, and for a brief period the major record companies tried very hard to turn the music into a fad.

By 1950, the fad had ended and Gillespie was forced, due to economic pressures, to break up his groundbreaking orchestra. He had occasional (and always exciting) reunions with Charlie Parker (including a fabled Massey Hall concert in 1953) up until Bird's death in 1955, toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic (where he had opportunities to "battle" the combative Roy Eldridge), headed all-star recording sessions (using Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, and Sonny Stitt on some dates), and led combos that for a time in 1951 also featured Coltrane and Milt Jackson. In 1956, Gillespie was authorized to form a big band and play a tour overseas sponsored by the State Department. It was so successful that more traveling followed, including extensive tours to the Near East, Europe, and South America, and the band survived up to 1958. Among the young sidemen were Lee Morgan, Joe Gordon, Melba Liston, Al Grey, Billy Mitchell, Benny Golson, Ernie Henry, and Wynton Kelly; Quincy Jones (along with Golson and Liston) contributed some of the arrangements. After the orchestra broke up, Gillespie went back to leading small groups, featuring such sidemen in the 1960s as Junior Mance, Leo Wright, Lalo Schifrin, James Moody, and Kenny Barron. He retained his popularity, occasionally headed specially assembled big bands, and was a fixture at jazz festivals. In the early '70s, Gillespie toured with the Giants of Jazz and around that time his trumpet playing began to fade, a gradual decline that would make most of his '80s work quite erratic. However, Dizzy remained a world traveler, an inspiration and teacher to younger players, and during his last couple of years he was the leader of the United Nation Orchestra (featuring Paquito D'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval). He was active up until early 1992.

Dizzy Gillespie's career was very well documented from 1945 on, particularly on Musicraft, Dial, and RCA in the 1940s; Verve in the 1950s; Philips and Limelight in the 1960s; and Pablo in later years. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Chronological 1953-1954

1. Impromptu

2. Manteca Theme

3. Sugar Hips

4. Hey Pete

5. One Alone

6. Money Honey

7. Night In Tunesia

8. Caravan

10. Blue Mood

11. Rails

12. Devil And The Fish

13. Rumbola

x

Track List: Chronological Classics: Dizzy Gillespie 1952-1953

1. Summertime

2. Blue Moon

4. Cripple Crapple Crutch

5. Dizzy Song (Lady Bird)

7. She's Funny That Way

8. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams

9. Sweet Lorraine

10. Everything Happens To Me

11. I Don't Know Why

12. Blue Skies

13. Umbrella Man

14. Pop's Confessin'

16. They Can't Take That Away From Me

17. Muskrat Ramble

18. Battle Of The Blues

19. How High The Moon

20. Always

24. Moon Nocturne

x

Track List: The Chronological 1952

1. Cocktails For Two

2. Cognac Blues

3. Moon Nocturne

5. Blue And Sentimental

6. Just One More Chance

8. Hurry Home

9. Afro Paris

10. Say Eh!

11. I Cover The Waterfront

12. The Man I Love

13. Night And Day

14. Sweet And Lovely

15. My Old Flame

16. I Waited For You

18. They Can't Take That Away From Me

19. Break At The Beginning (Taking A Chance On Love)

20. When It's Sleepy Time Down South

21. Lullaby In Rhythm

23. Ain't Misbehavin'

x

Track List: Bebop Professor

1. Anthropology

2. 52nd Street Theme

3. Overtime

4. Manteca

5. Hot Mallets

6. Two Bass Hit

7. Cubana Be, Cubana Bop

8. Ol' Man Rebop

9. Good Bait

10. Jump Did-Le Ba

11. Jumpin' With Symphony Sid

13. A Night In Tunisia

x

Track List: Ken Burns Jazz

1. Pickin' The Cabbage

2. Disorder At The Border

3. Salt Peanuts

4. I Can't Get Started

5. A Night In Tunisia

6. Dizzy Atmosphere

7. Groovin' High

8. Things To Come

9. One Bass Hit, No. 2

10. Manteca

11. Bloomdido

12. Tin Tin Deo

13. Birks' Works

14. The Eternal Triangle

15. No More Blues (Chega De Saudade)

16. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac

x

Track List: Talkin' Verve

2. Theme From The Cool World

3. Jambo

4. Toccata

5. Taboo

6. Walk On The Wild Side

9. The Pushers

10. Kush

12. Bang Bang

13. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. Night In Tunisia

2. 52nd Street Theme

3. Good Bait

4. Anthropology

5. Stay On It

6. Two Bass Hit

7. Manteca

8. Minor Walk

9. Lover, Come Back To Me

10. Ool-Ya-Koo

11. I'm Be Boppin' Too

12. You Go To My Head

13. St. Louis Blues

14. Jumpin' With Symphony Sid

15. Jump Did-Le Ba

16. In The Land Of Oo-Bla-Dee

17. Victory Ball

x

Track List: Birks Works: The Verve Big-Band Sessions

Disc 1

1. Dizzy's Business

2. Hey, Pete

3. Jessica's Day

4. Tour de Force

5. I Can't Get Started

6. Stella by Starlight

7. Doodlin'

8. A Night In Tunisia (1956)

9. The Champ

10. Yesterdays

11. Tin Tin Deo

12. Groovin' For Nat

13. My Reverie

14. Dizzy's Blues

15. Annie's Dance

16. Cool Breeze

17. School Days

18. Jordu

19. Yo No Quiero Bailar

Disc 2

1. Birks' Works

2. Autumn Leaves

3. Tangerine

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Umbrella Man

6. If You Could See Me Now

7. Left Hand Corner (false start)

8. Left Hand Corner (alt)

9. Left Hand Corner (alt)

10. Left Hand Corner (false start)

11. Left Hand Corner

12. Whisper Not (alt)

13. Whisper Not (alt)

14. Whisper Not

15. Stablemates

16. That's All

17. Groovin' High

18. Mayflower Rock (alt)

19. Mayflower Rock

20. Joogie Boogie

21. I Remember Clifford

22. You'll Be Sorry

23. Wonder Why

x

Track List: Dizzy Gillespie - The Complete RCA Recordings

Disc 1

1. Manteca

2. Anthropology (Take 2)

3. King Porter Stomp

4. Yours And Mine

5. Blue Rhythm Fantasy

6. Hot Mallets

7. 52nd Street Theme (Take 1)

8. 52nd Street Theme (Take 2)

9. Night In Tunisia (Take 1)

10. Night In Tunisia (Incomplete Take)

11. Ol' Man Rebop

12. Anthropology (Take 1)

13. Ow!

14. Oop-Pop-A-Da

15. Two Bass Hit

16. Stay On It

17. Algo Bueno (Woody 'n You)

18. Cool Breeze

19. Cubana Be

20. Cubana Bop

21. Ool-Ya-Koo

22. Minor Walk

Disc 2

1. Good Bait

2. Guarachi Guaro

3. Duff Capers

4. Lover, Come Back to Me

5. I'm Be Boppin' Too (Take 1)

6. Swedish Suite

7. St. Louis Blues

8. I Should Care

9. That Old Black Magic

10. You Go To My Head

11. Jump Did-Le Ba

12. Dizzier and Dizzier

13. I'm Be Boppin' Too (Take 2)

14. Hey Pete! Le's Eat More Meat

15. Jumpin' With Symphony Sid

16. If Love is Trouble

17. In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee

18. Overtime (Shorter Take)

19. Overtime (Longer Take)

20. Victory Ball (Shorter Take)

21. Victory Ball (Longer Take)

x

Track List: Gillespiana And Carnegie Hall Concert

1. Prelude

2. Blues

4. Africana

5. Toccata

6. Manteca

7. This Is The Way

8. Ool Ya Koo (live)

9. Kush

x

Track List: Dizzy's Diamonds - The Best Of The Verve Years

Disc 1

1. Prelude

2. 'bout To Wail

3. Umbrella Man

4. The Chains

5. Birks'

6. Stella By Starlight

7. Dizzy's Business

8. Autumn Leaves

9. Dizzy's Blues

10. Flamingo

11. Jordu

12. Evening Sound

13. Take The

Disc 2

1. Blue 'n' Boogie

2. Bonnie's Blues

3. Ool-Ya-Koo

4. Blues After Dark

5. The Heat's On

6. Leap Frog

7. Where's Adam?

8. There Is No Greater Love

9. Just One Of Those Things

10. I Know That You Know

11. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac

12. Dizzy Atmosphere

Disc 3

1. Manteca

2. Fiesta Mojo

3. A Night In Tunisia

4. And Then She Stopped

5. Tin Tin Deo

6. Desafinado

7. Africana

8. Pergunte Ao Joao (Ask John)

9. Caravan

10. This Lovely Feeling

11. Ungawa

12. Begin The Beguine

13. Con Alma

14. Rio Pakistan

15. Jambo

x

Track List: The Best Of Dizzy Gillespie

1. Unicorn

2. Free Ride

3. Pensativo

4. Exuberante

5. Behind The Moonbeam

6. Shim, Sham, Shimmy On The St. Louis Blues

7. The Truth

x

Track List: Groovin' High

1. Blue 'n' Boogie

2. Groovin' High

3. Dizzy Atmosphere

4. All the Things You are

5. Salt Peanuts

6. Hot House

7. Oop Bop Sh' Bam

8. That's Earl Brother

9. Our Delight

10. One Bass Hit -part 2

11. Things to Come

12. Rays Idea

13. Emanon

x

Track List: The Trumpet Summit Meets The Oscar Peterson Big Four

x

Track List: Dizzy's Big 4

1. Frelimo

2. Hurry Home

3. Russian Lullaby

4. Be Bop (Dizzy's FIngers)

5. Birks Works

6. September Song

7. Jitterbug Waltz

x

Track List: The Real Thing

x

Track List: Portrait Of Jenny

x

Track List: Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac

1. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac (Live)

2. Mas Que Nada (Live)

3. Bye (Live)

4. Something In Your Smile (Live)

5. Kush (Live)

x

Track List: The Cool World

1. Theme From

2. Pushers

3. Enter, Priest

4. Duke's Awakening

5. Duke On The Run

6. Street Music

7. Bonnie's Blues

8. Coney Island

9. Duke's Fantasy

10. Coolie

11. Duke's Last Soliloquy

x

Track List: Something Old Something New

1. Bebop

2. Good Bait

3. Medley: I Can't Get Started/ 'Round Midnight

4. Dizzy Atmosphere

5. November Afternoon

6. This Lovely Feeling

7. The Day After

8. Cup Bearers

9. Early Mornin' Blues

x

Track List: An Electrifying Evening With the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet

1. Kush (Live)

2. Salt Peanuts

3. A Night in Tunisia (1961) (Live)

4. The Mooche (Live)

5. Interview With Dizzy Gillespie By Charles Schwartz

x

Track List: Dizzy Gillespie At Newport

1. Dizzy's Blues

2. School Days

3. Doodlin'

4. Manteca

5. I Remember Clifford

6. Cool Breeze

7. Selections From Zodiac Suite

8. Carloca

9. A Night In Tunisia

x

Track List: The Champ

1. The Champ (Parts 1 And 2)

2. Birk's Works

3. Caravan

4. Time On My Hands

5. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

6. Tin Tin Deo

7. Star Dust

8. They Can't Take That Away From Me

9. The Bluest Blues

10. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac

11. Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be

12. Bopsies Blues

13. Blue Skies

x

Track List: Chronological Classics: Dizzy Gillespie, 1952

1. Cocktails For Two

2. Cognac Blues

3. Moon Nocturne

5. Blue And Sentimental

6. Just One More Chance

8. Hurry Home

9. Afro Paris

10. Say Eh!

11. I Cover The Waterfront

12. The Man I Love

13. Night And Day

14. Sweet And Lovely

15. My Old Flame

16. I Waited For You

18. They Can't Take That Away From Me

19. Break At The Beginning (Taking A Chance On Love)

20. When It's Sleepy Time Down South

21. Lullaby In Rhythm

23. Ain't Misbehavin'

x

Track List: Gettin' Dizzy: The High Flying Dizzy Gillespie

1. Tin Tin Deo

2. Star Dust

3. Caravan

4. Salt Peanuts

5. The Champ (Parts One And Two)

6. All The Things You Are

7. Dizzy Atmoshphere

8. Hot House

9. Lover Man

10. Groovin' High

11. Oop-Bop-Sh'bam

12. Birk's Works

13. I Found A Million Dollar Baby

14. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

15. Things To Come

x

Track List: Lady Bird

1. Groovin' High

2. Hot House

3. Algo Bueno

4. Cubano Be Cubano Bop

5. Emanon

6. An Oscar For Treawell

7. Swing Low Sweet Chariot

8. Birk's Work

9. The Champ

10. Dizzy Song

11. Ooh-Shoo-Bee-Doo-Bee

12. Battle Of Blues

13. Tin Tin Deo

14. Embraceable You

15. Wee

16. I Don't Mean A Thing

17. Manteca

18. Sometimes I'm Happy

x

Track List: The Best Of Odyssey (1945-1952)

1. Blue N' Boogie

2. Groovin' High

3. Shaw 'Nuff

4. Interlude (A Night In Tunesia)

5. Slim's Jam

6. That's Earl, Brother

7. He Beeped When He Shoulda Bopped

8. Our Delight

9. Things To Come

10. Emanon

11. I Found A Million Dollar Baby

12. On The Alamo

13. Tin Tin Deo

14. The Champ Parts 1 & 2

15. School Days

16. Caravan

17. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

18. Star Dust

19. Pops' Confession

20. They Can't Take That Away From Me

Comments

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Q
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Wolf! Music by Dizzy makes you want to break the window and howl at the moon and say you love someone even if you don't then walk down the alley and not care where you end up or how you get back ..as long as the music keeps you moving like this. should be 'aight.
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Saw him on campus and what a show. The man was BAD
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Love listening to Dizzy and real music!
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dnishitani
I finally understand who Billy Gillespie is thanks to my band teacher, Mr.Shea. At first I was like who is he talking about, but I finally listened to Dizzy's music and I know what my band teacher is talking about now
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What a talent dizzy was. Modern jazz owes much to this jazz legend
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oneblueleaf
Not a single mention of Jojo Mayer in the bio. Hmph.
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can anyone tell me why the description of dizzy Gillespie includes the phrases, heavy use of sampling and electronica roots?
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This is pleasant enough, but Dizzy would probably roll over in his grave at this album being called The Best of Dizzy Gillespie. It's Dizzy in the 1970s trying to make a living at a time when jazz musicians couldn't get a gig. It's commercial music, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's not really very creative or interesting. FAR from Dizzy at his best. (The fact is, he's not even playing that well here; no doubt his heart wasn't in it.)
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Is this Dizzy Gillespie? Love it !!
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Great music! In later years, my friend Rodney Jones played guitar for Dizzy. Check out Rodney! He has some chops!!
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Where are these artist today? Covered by commercialis m
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Smoking out listening too some Dizzle my Nizzle....
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wonderfull
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*ensuring, not insuring
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Marvelous.
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mooyoo.77
SCHOOLMATE -- LAURINBURG INSTITUTE.
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Funky! I like it!
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Thanks for contacting me - thanks for reminding me about what's great
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Manteca!
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To bop or be bop that Dizzy
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I like the picture
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adgersart
Leave a comment…
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jeffbkr03
Saw Dizzie perform live at NCCU as student!!!
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a-liststar
Definitely Dizzy, one of the great jazz trumpet players and innovative trumpet players. Also, his love for his wife and his self-commitm e n t to stay away from the pitfalls of alchol and drugs is worth mentioning.
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Say the word Bee-Bop, and only one name should come to mind -- Dizzy! Dizz has had such a great influence on music and musicians - Arturo Sandoval and Check Mangione readily come to mind. Dizzy is about the music and imparting the joy he finds in making it with others...tha t people, is a gift! And, Dizzy is a gift and a true American treasure!
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if I had to be marooned on a desert Isle with Dizzy or Miles, I'd pick Dizzy ten to one.
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No Biography. Fix this!
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Where is his biography? One of the most important figures in jazz, and his biography comes up blank everytime I look for it on my phone. Disappointin g Pandora!
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Nice recognition of Gillespie's influence on younger musicians as a teacher, and music theorist.
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what? no bio?
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Looks like you've got Oscar Peterson's Bio under Dizzy Gillespies -- Please fix! Thx
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Seeing Diz in a very small club in D.C. in the late 60's was one of my 2 coolest experiences (the other Brubeck's Q-tet in the dressing rm);took my request and played Night in Tunisia like he'd written it for me. So Cool!
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too many notes? And which would you suggest he remove?
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ngehm1
You can tell that Dizzy's roots are in the South. He was born and bred in Cheraw, SC a great Southern town.
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manteca
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I met Dizzy once backstage at the Monterey Jazz Festival. I was fresh out of high school at the time. I asked him what recordings that he made with Chan Pozo would he would suggest I listen to - he looked at me like I had a hole in the middle of my head. I never felt so un-cool or less hip in my life.
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Dizzy makes me want to play my trumpet.
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selkie108
I LOVE Dizzy!!! :)
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skirtsoplain
fun
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dizzy? straight up and solid! gets my vote on or off...lwy
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prijb007
too fast
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Happy Birthday Dizzy.
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I love Diz like I love my own mother... But, Scott, ahead of Charlie Parker harmonically in the 40's? Can you back that up? Have you broken down their solos and analyzed them? Critics say the damndest things and most of the time they're just making s**t up.
Unlike Diz, every jazz musician I know (including guitarists and keyboardists ) cut his teeth studying Charlie Parker solos, NOT Dizzy Gillespie solos. So, who's the greater influence? NO MUSICIAN I KNOW STUDIES DIZ SOLOS(cept trmpt plyrs)
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DIZ THE MEAT BETWEEN THE BREAD.. THE MORTER.. THE STRAW THAT STIRS..ANY AND ALL WAY OF SUPERLATIVES WAS THE GREAT DIZ..HE ALWAYS BRINGS A SMILE TO YOUR HEART....BAB A 221
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Diz was one of the greatest ambassador's of jazz and latin music; he also brought many great and unlikely musicians together, like Chano Pozo, Al McKibbon, Lee Morgan, etc. He certainly left the world of jazz in a much better place as a result of his talents and ingenuity.
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There was only one Dizzy and I was so honored to have a chance to sing with Diz at the Tangiers in Akron,Ohio years ago. At that time James Moody was in the band along with drummer "Candy" Otis Finch Jr. Love this site!
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wow - so cool...a great 70s flashback from Diz!
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Wow! Thats's awesome! This relaxes my brain waves! Nothin' like it!
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A True Genius,that I've had the pleasure,and privilege in this lifetime to be in his company,and talk,and laugh with.
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