News

Jazz Fans Remember Dizzy Gillespie on 90th Birthday

Multimedia

Audio

One of the world's most popular figures in jazz was trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. His skills as a composer, improviser, singer and bandleader helped shape "be-bop" in the 1940s, and set the stage for modern jazz. To mark what would have been Dizzy's 90th birthday on October 21, VOA's Doug Levine sheds a little light on his lasting legacy.

While many remember Dizzy Gillespie for such groundbreaking pieces as "A Night In Tunisia," others will always think of him playing a funny shaped trumpet with his cheeks so puffed up they looked as though they were about to burst. The bell of his trumpet was bent at a 45-degree angle, which Dizzy claimed was the result of someone accidentally falling on it. Ironically, he liked its new tone so much, he decided to have all of his trumpets designed with the bell pointing upwards. That became his trademark.

Besides being a great showman, Dizzy was a pioneer. According to Donald L. Maggin, author of the biography Dizzy: The Life And Times Of John Birks Gillespie, he lifted jazz to a new level of appreciation.

"Dizzy made two aesthetic revolutions," he said. "He was an incredible improviser and an incredible performer and everything. But I think his main significance in the history of jazz is in those two revolutions, because I think that's what his fame a hundred years from now will rest on.

"It was an evolution in that he was a part of the continuum of great people who came before him, like [Louis] Armstrong and [Duke] Ellington and Coleman Hawkins and [Roy] Eldridge," Maggin added. "And then his generation with [Charlie] Parker, and then handing it on to the younger generations like Lee Morgan and Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D'Rivera. He felt himself part of a continuum, and he use to say, 'No Armstrong, no me.'"

Few embraced Afro-Cuban jazz more than Dizzy Gillespie. Biographer Donald L. Maggin says Dizzy was a natural-born composer.

"He adapted Afro-Cuban music with Manteca and Chano Pozo, and he adapted be-bop with things like 'Things To Come,' which is a big band thing at 300 beats-a-minute," he said. "And he transformed big band music in those years and in subsequent big bands that he had, and that's a very important part of his legacy."

Dizzy Gillespie's death at age 75 in 1993 marked the end of an era. No artist had brought jazz to so many countries, which is why, on the anniversary of his 90th birthday, he is still considered "The World Statesman Of Jazz."

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs