John Birks Gillespie um gênio do bebop.
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie nasceu em Cheraw na Carolina
do Sul em 21 de outubro de 1917 e foi um trumpetista americano de jazz, composito, bandleader e cantor.
Gillespie era virtuoso e improvisador e construiu seus estilo tendo como êmulo Roy Eldridge com a adiçao de camadas de harmonia e
ritmos complexas até então desconhecidas no jazz. Sua combinação de musicalidade, showman e sagacidade fizeram dele um líder muito popular da nova música, o bebop. Suas boinas e seus óculos de aro de chifre,
sua maneira peculiar de cantar em scats, seu trumpet curvado, suas bochechas infladas e sua despreocupação deram ao bebop seu símbolo mais proeminente.
Em 1940, Gillespie, com Charlie Parker surgiram como as maiores figuras no desenvolvimento do bebop e do jazz moderno. Ele ensinou e influenciou muitos músicos e nessa lista se incluem Miles Davis,
Jon Fadis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval , Lee Morgan, Chuck Mangione e Johnny Hartman
O historiador Scott Yanow escreveu: A constribuição de Gillespie para o jazz é enorme Um dos maiores trupetistas de
todos os tempos Gillespie foi um músico de jazz muito complexo que sua influência acabou por aparecer desde seus contemporâneos Miles Daivs e Fats Navarro até emergir John Faddis já nos anos 70. Indiscutivelmente Gillespi é
lembrado, por todas os críticos e fãs como o maior de todos os tempos.
O mais novo de nove filhos de Lottie e James Gillespie que era um bandleader local, de Cheraw, o que lhe permitia desde cedo o contato com os mais diversos intrumentos
musicais. Dizzy começou com o piano com quatro anos e seu pai morreu quando ele tinha dez anos.
Dizzy aos doze
anos ja tocava trombone e trumpete como auto-didata. Uma noite ouviu Roy Eldridge no rádio e começou a sonhar em ser um músico de verdade. Ganhou uma bolsa de estudos musical para o Lauringburgh Institute no qual permaneceu por dois anos
até a família se mudar para Philadelphia.
Sue primeiro trabalho profissional foi com a Frank Faixfax Orchestra em 1935 e na sequencia com as orquestras de Edgar Hayes e Teddy Hill onde substituiu Roy Eldridge, seu ídolo, como primeiro
trupete em 1937, com essa banda também gravou seu primeiro disco com a música King Porter Stomp Em agosto de 1937 quando se apresentava com Hayes conheceu uma jovem dançarina, Lorraine Willis que trabalhava no circuito Baltimore-Philadelphia-New
York City que incluia o Apollo Theater. A princípio Lorraine não lhe deu bola mas Dizzy apaixonou-se e insistiu, casou-se com ela em 1940 e foram casados até 1993, ano de sua morte.
Ficou com Hill por um ano e
depois foi free-lancer de várias outras bandas. A seguir juntou-se à Cab Calloway Orchestra com quem gravou sua primeira composição , a instrumental Pickin' the Cabbage em 1940.
Depois de uma altercação notável entre os dois homens Caloway atirou em Gillespie no fim de 1941. O incidente é recontado por membros da banda de Calloway
Milt Hinton e Jonah Jones no filme de Jean Bach The Sitball Story de 1997. Calloway não suportava o humor malicioso de Dizzy nem a abordagem aventureira de seus solos que chamava de Chinese Music e nem achava Dizzy um bom músico. Durante um ensaio
um membro da banda falou uma besteira e Calloway decidiu culpar Gillespie que negou e o problema avolumou-se de tal modo que causou a primeira briga na qual Dizzy esfaqueou a perna de Cab causando um pequeno corte. Depois do incidente eles se separaram e Cab
atirou em Dizzy. Alguns dias depois Dizzy desculpou-se mas Cab o despediu.
Durante seu tempo na orquestra de Cab Dizzy começou a escrever para big bands como as de Woody Herman e Jimmy Dorsey. Ele então trabalhou como freelancer
mais frequentemente com a orquestra de Ella Fitzgerald composta por membros da Chick Webb Band.
Gillespie said of the
Hines band, "[p]eople talk about the Hines band being 'the incubator of bop' and the leading exponents of that music ended up in the Hines band. But people also have the erroneous impression that the music was new. It was not. The music evolved from what went
before. It was the same basic music. The difference was in how you got from here to here to here ... naturally each age has got its own shit".
Gillespie joined the big band of Hines' long-time collaborator Billy Eckstine, and it was as a member of Eckstine's band that he was reunited with Charlie Parker, a fellow member. In 1945, Gillespie left Eckstine's band because he wanted to play with a small combo. A "small combo" typically
comprised no more than five musicians, playing the trumpet, saxophone, piano, bass and drums.
Bebop was known as the first modern jazz style. However, it was unpopular in the beginning and was not viewed as positively as swing music was. Bebop was seen as an outgrowth of swing, not a revolution. Swing introduced a diversity
of new musicians in the bebop era like Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud
Powell, Kenny Clarke, Oscar Pettiford, and Gillespie. Through these musicians, a new vocabulary of musical phrases was created. With Parker, Gillespie jammed
at famous jazz clubs like Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's Uptown House. Parker's system also held methods of adding chords to existing chord progressions and implying additional
chords within the improvised lines.
Gillespie compositions like "Groovin'
High", "Woody 'n' You" and "Salt Peanuts" sounded radically different, harmonically and rhythmically, from the swing music popular at the time. "A
Night in Tunisia", written in 1942, while Gillespie was playing with Earl Hines' band, is noted for having a feature that is common in today's music: a syncopated bass line.  The song also displays Afro-Cuban rhythms. "Woody
'n' You" was recorded in a session led by Coleman Hawkins with Gillespie as a featured sideman on February 16, 1944 (Apollo 751),
the first formal recording of bebop. Gillespie appeared in recordings by the Billy Eckstine band, and started recording prolifically as a leader and sideman in early 1945. Gillespie was not content to let bebop sit in a niche of small groups in small clubs.
A concert by one of Gillespie's small groups in New York's Town Hall on June 22, 1945 presented bebop to a broad audience; recordings of it were finally released in 2005. He started to organize big bands in late 1945. "Dizzy Gillespie and his Rebop Six," including
Parker, started an extended gig at Billy Berg's club in Los Angeles in December 1945. Reception of the music at the engagement was decidedly mixed and the band broke up.
In February 1946 Gillespie landed a recording date with the Bluebird label, gaining the distribution power of RCA for the new music. He and his big band headlined the 1946 independently produced musical revue film Jivin' in Be-Bop. After his work with Parker, Gillespie led other small combos (including ones with Milt Jackson, John Coltrane, Lalo Schifrin, Ray Brown, Kenny
Clarke, James Moody, J.J. Johnson, and Yusef
Lateef) and put together his successful big bands starting in 1947. Gillespie and his big bands, with arrangements provided by Tadd
Dameron, Gil Fuller, and George Russell, popularized bebop and made Gillespie a symbol of the new music. His big bands of the late 1940s also featured Cuban rumberos Chano Pozo and Sabu Martinez, sparking
interest in Afro-Cuba
In 1948, Gillespie was involved in a traffic accident when the bicycle he was riding was bumped by
an automobile. He was slightly injured, and found that he could no longer hit the B-flat above high C. He won the case, but the jury awarded him only $1000, in view of his high earnings up to that point.
On January 6, 1953, he threw a party for his wife Lorraine at Snookie's, a club in Manhattan, where his trumpet's bell got bent upward in an accident, but he liked the
sound so much he had a special trumpet made with a 45 degree raised bell, becoming his trademark.
1956 Gillespie organized a band to go on a State Department tour of the Middle East which was extremely well received internationally and earned him the nickname "the Ambassador of Jazz". During this time, he also continued
to lead a big band that performed throughout the United States and featured musicians including Pee Wee Moore and
others. This band recorded a live album at the 1957 Newport jazz festival
that featured Mary Lou Williams as a guest artist on piano.
In the late 1940s, Gillespie was also involved in the movement called Afro-Cuban music, bringing Afro-Latin American music and elements to greater prominence in jazz and even pop music, particularly salsa. Afro-Cuban jazz is based on traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms. Gillespie was introduced to Chano Pozo in 1947 by Mario Bauza, a Latin jazz trumpet player. Chano Pozo became Gillespie's conga drummer for his band. Gillespie also worked with Mario Bauza in New York jazz clubs on 52nd Street and several famous dance clubs
such as the Palladium and the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
They played together in the Chick Webb band and Cab Calloway's band, where Gillespie and Bauza became lifelong friends. Gillespie helped develop and mature the Afro-Cuban jazz style.
Afro-Cuban jazz was considered bebop-oriented, and some musicians classified it as a modern style. Afro-Cuban jazz was successful because it never decreased
in popularity and it always attracted people to dance to its unique rhythms. Gillespie's most famous contributions to Afro-Cuban music are the compositions "Manteca" and "Tin Tin Deo" (both co-written with Chano Pozo); he was responsible for commissioning George Russell's "Cubano Be, Cubano Bop", which featured Pozo. In 1977, Gillespie discovered Arturo Sandoval while researching music during a tour of Cuba.
His biographer Alyn Shipton quotes Don Waterhouse approvingly that Gillespie in the fifties "had begun to mellow into an amalgam of his entire
jazz experience to form the basis of new classicism". Another opinion is that, unlike his contemporary Miles Davis, Gillespie essentially remained true to the bebop style for the rest of his career.
In 1960, he was inducted into Down Beat magazine's Jazz Hall of Fame.
the 1964 United States presidential campaign the
artist, with tongue in cheek, put himself forward as an independent write-in candidate. He
promised that if he were elected, the White House would be renamed the Blues House, and he would have
a cabinet composed of Duke Ellington (Secretary of State), Miles Davis (Director of the CIA), Max
Roach (Secretary of Defense), Charles Mingus (Secretary of Peace), Ray Charles (Librarian of Congress), Louis Armstrong (Secretary of Agriculture), Mary
Lou Williams (Ambassador to the Vatican), Thelonious Monk (Travelling Ambassador) and Malcolm X (Attorney General). He said his running mate would be Phyllis Diller. Campaign buttons had been manufactured years before by Gillespie's booking agency "for publicity,
as a gag", but
now proceeds from them went to benefit the Congress of Racial Equality, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King, Jr.; in later years they became a collector's
In 1971, Gillespie announced he would run again but withdrew before the election for reasons connected to the Bahá'í Faith.
Dizzy Gillespie, a Bahá'í since 1968, was
one of the most famous adherents of the Bahá'í Faith. It brought
him to see himself as one of a series of musical messengers, part of a succession of trumpeters somewhat analogous to the series of prophets who bring God's message in religion. The universalist emphasis of his religion prodded him to see himself more as a
global citizen and humanitarian, expanding on his already-growing interest in his African heritage. His increasing spirituality brought out a generosity in him, and what author Nat Hentoff called an inner strength, discipline and "soul force". Gillespie's conversion was most affected by Bill Sears' book Thief in the Night. Gillespie spoke
about the Bahá'í Faith frequently on his trips abroad. He is honored with weekly jazz sessions at the New York Bahá'í Center in the memorial auditorium.
Gillespie published his autobiography, To Be or Not to Bop, in 1979.
Gillespie was a vocal fixture in many of John Hubley and Faith Hubley's animated films, such as The Hole, The Hat, and Voyage to Next.
In the 1980s, Gillespie led the United Nation Orchestra. For three years Flora Purim toured with the Orchestra and she credits Gillespie with evolving her understanding of jazz after being in the field for over two decades. David Sánchez also toured with the group and was also greatly influenced
by Gillespie. Both artists later were nominated for Grammy awards. Gillespie also had a guest appearance on The
Cosby Show as well as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.
In 1982, Gillespie had a cameo
appearance on Stevie Wonder's hit "Do I Do". Gillespie's tone gradually faded in the last years in life, and his performances often focused more on his proteges such as Arturo Sandoval
1988, Gillespie had worked with Canadian flautist and saxophonist Moe Koffman on their prestigious album Oo
Pop a Da. He did fast scat vocals on the title track and a couple of the other tracks were played only on trumpet.
In 1989 Gillespie gave 300 performances in 27 countries, appeared in 100 U.S. cities in 31 states and the District of Columbia, headlined three television specials, performed with two symphonies, and recorded four albums.Ordre
des Arts et des Lettres; France's most prestigious cultural award. He was named Regent Professor by the University
of California, and received his fourteenth honorary doctoral degree, this one from the Berklee College of Music.
He was also crowned a traditional chief in Nigeria, received the
In addition, he was awarded the Grammy
Lifetime Achievement Award the same year. The next year, at the Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts ceremonies celebrating the centennial of American jazz, Gillespie received the Kennedy
Center Honors Award and the American
Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Duke Ellington Award for 50 years of achievement as a composer, performer, and bandleader. In 1993 he received the Polar Music Prize in Sweden.
In December 1991, during an engagement at Kimball's East in Emeryville, CA, he suffered a crisis from what would turn out to be pancreatic cancer. He performed one more night but cancelled the rest of the
tour over his medical problem, ending his 56 year touring career. Gillespie led his last recording session on January 25, 1992.
On November 26, 1992, Carnegie Hall, following the Second Bahá'í World Congress, celebrated Gillespie's 75th birthday concert and his offering
to the celebration of the centenary of the passing of Bahá'u'lláh.
Gillespie was to appear at Carnegie Hall for the 33rd time. The line-up included: Jon Faddis, James Moody, Paquito D'Rivera, and the
Mike Longo Trio with Ben Brown on bass and Mickey Roker on drums. But Gillespie didn't make
it because he was in bed suffering from pancreatic cancer. "But the musicians played their real
hearts out for him, no doubt suspecting that he would not play again. Each musician gave tribute to their friend, this great soul and innovator in the world of jazz.
A longtime resident of Englewood, New Jersey he
died of pancreatic cancer on January 6, 1993, aged 75, and was buried in the Flushing Cemetery, Queens,
New York City. Mike Longodelivered a eulogy at his funeral. He was also with Gillespie on the night he died.
Gillespie was survived by his widow, Lorraine Willis Gillespie (died 2004); a daughter, jazz singer Jeanie Bryson (who was born from an affair with songwriter Connie Bryson); and a grandson, Radji Birks Bryson-Barrett.
Gillespie had two funerals. One was a Bahá'í funeral at his request, at which his closest friends and colleagues attended. The second was at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City open to the public.
High School, the public high school of Englewood, New Jersey, renamed their auditorium the Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium, in memory of him.
In 2002, Gillespie was posthumously inducted into the International
Latin Music Hall of Fame for his contributions to Afro-Cuban music.
Gillespie also starred
in a film called The Winter in Lisbon released in 2004. He has a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame at 7057 Hollywood Boulevard.
He was honored on December 31, 2006 in A Jazz New Year's Eve: Freddy Cole & the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing
In 2014, Gillespie was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
trademark trumpet featured a bell which bent upward at a 45-degree angle rather than pointing straight ahead as in the conventional design. According to Gillespie's autobiography, this was originally the result of accidental damage caused by the dancers Stump and Stumpy falling onto the instrument while it was on a trumpet stand on stage at Snookie's
in Manhattan on January 6, 1953, during a birthday party for Gillespie's wife Lorraine. The constriction caused by the bending altered the tone of the instrument, and Gillespie liked the effect. He had the trumpet straightened out
the next day, but he could not forget the tone. Gillespie sent a request to Martin to
make him a "bent" trumpet from a sketch produced by Lorraine, and from that time forward played a trumpet with an upturned bell.
Gillespie's biographer Alyn Shipton writes that Gillespie probably got the idea for a bent trumpet when he saw a similar instrument in 1937 in Manchester, England, while on tour with the Teddy Hill Orchestra.
Whatever the origins of Gillespie's upswept trumpet, by June 1954 he was using a professionally manufactured horn of this design, and it was to become a visual trademark for him for the rest of his life. Such trumpets were made for him
by Martin (from 1954), King Musical Instruments (from 1972) and Renold Schilke (from 1982, a gift from Jon Faddis). Gillespie favored mouthpieces made by Al
Cass. In December 1986 Gillespie gave the National Museum
of American History his 1972 King "Silver Flair" trumpet with a Cass mouthpiece. In April 1995, Gillespie's Martin trumpet was auctioned at Christie's in New York City, along with instruments used by other famous musicians such as Coleman Hawkins, Jimi
Hendrix and Elvis Presley. An image of Gillespie's trumpet was selected for
the cover of the auction program. The battered instrument was sold to Manhattan builder Jeffery Brown for $63,000, the proceeds benefiting jazz musicians suffering from cancer.