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Dizzy Gillespie

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Dizzy Gillespie & Louis Armstrong – Umbrella Man

Jazz trumpet greats Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie performing Umbrella Man.

Dizzy-Gillespie-A-Night-In-ChicagoBebop was born in 1941, when trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (1917), double bass player Milt Hinton, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonious Monk and drummer Kenny Clarke began playing informally together. Its official birth place was “Minton’s Playhouse”, a New York club. Due to a strike by recording artists, very little was documented on record until 1944.

South Carolina’s trumpeter John “Dizzy” Gillespie, also an accomplished songwriter, was hired in 1939 by Cab Calloway’s orchestra, where he developed a style very influenced by Roy Eldridge. In 1942 he joined Earl Hines, where in 1943 he played alongside alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and vocalist Sarah Vaughan, and began to display a much more personal style, expanding his habit of improvising new chord changes on a melody to an almost manic form of art, turning dynamics into the very essence of jazz at the expense of intimacy (sometimes replaced by overtones of melodrama and euphoria).

In 1945 Gillespie organized his own band, that lasted till 1950. Hits such as Things to Come(june 1946) were arranged by Gil Fuller. Gillespie’s band pioneered Cuban bop, a genre born of the wedding between Cuban rhythms and bebop. His association with Cuban conga player Chano Pozo yielded George Russell’sCubana Be Cubana Bop (december 1947), possibly the first modal improvisation on record, and their Manteca (december 1947). Gillespie’s rhythm section of 1947 consisted of John Lewis, Milt Jackson, Kenny Clarke and Ray Brown, that would soon form the Modern Jazz Quartet.

post_19587362Jazz at Massey Hall (may 1953) documents a legendary performance with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charlie Mingus and Max Roach.

After a mediocre decade, Gillespie converted to “third stream” music. Argentinian pianist Boris “Lalo” Schifrin composed for him the five-movement Gillespiana Suite (november 1960) and the six-movement suite The New Continent (september 1962), whilePerceptions (may 1961) came from trombonist James “J. J.” Johnson, and Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill scored Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods (june 1975).  Gillespie died of cancer in 1993.

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