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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs