November 15, 2012
Professor Deborah Norman.
African American History HIS 111
John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie
John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was an American Jazz trumpet player, a bandleader, a singer and a composer. He was involved in a movement called the 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. This movement impacted society by bridging the gaps between different genres of music. He worked with singers, Chano Pozo and Mario Buaza. He impacted my life in an indirect, yet direct way. By him bridging the gap my listening pleasures are much broad and different.
Dizzy Gillespie, was born October 21, 1917, An American jazz singer who was known for his cheeks as well as his music. He was born in Cheraw, South Carolina, the youngest of nine children born to James and Lottie Gillespie. James was a local bandleader, so instruments were made available to him. He started to play the piano at the age of four and taught himself how to play the trombone as well as the trumpet by the age of twelve. He received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in Laurinburg, North Carolina. He attended for two years before accompanying his family when they moved to Philadelphia.
Dizzy's first professional job was with the Frank Fairfax Orchestra in 1935, after which he joined the respective orchestras of Edgar Hayes and Teddy Hill, essentially replacing Roy Eldridge as first trumpet in 1937. Teddy Hill’s band was where Dizzy made his first recording, King Porter Stomp. At this time Dizzy met a young woman named Lorraine from the Apollo Theatre, whom he married in 1940. He stayed with Teddy Hill’s band for a year, then left and free-lanced with numerous other bands. In 1939, Dizzy then joined Cab Calloway's orchestra, with which he recorded one of his earliest compositions, the instrumental Pickin' the Cabbage, in 1940. Dizzy was fired by Calloway in late 1941, after a notorious altercation between the two. The incident is recounted by Dizzy, along with fellow Calloway band members Milt Hinton and Jonah Jones, in Jean Bach's 1997 film, The Spitball Story. Calloway did not approve of Dizzy's mischievous humor, or of his adventuresome approach to soloing; according to Jones, Calloway referred to it as “Chinese music.” During one performance, Calloway saw a spitball land on the stage, and accused Dizzy of having thrown it. Dizzy denied it, and the ensuing argument led to Calloway striking Dizzy, who then pulled out a switchblade knife and charged Calloway. The two were separated by other band members, during which scuffle Calloway was cut on the hand.
In 1943, Dizzy joined the Earl Hines orchestra. The legendary big band of Billy Eckstine gave his unusual harmonies a better setting and it was as a member of Eckstine's band that he was reunited with Parker, a fellow member of Hines's more conventional band. In 1945, Dizzy 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. He was a world renowned figure and was a major influence