All About Dizzy Gillespie

"I don't care much about music. What I like is sounds."
- Dizzy Gillespie

Last Updated: 2005-11-10
Dizzy Gillespie
Born: October 21, 1917, Cheraw, South Carolina
Died: January 6, 1993, Englewood, New Jersey

Dizzy Gillespie was born John Birks Gillespie in 1917. He was one of the most influential jazz artists of all time, although he was infamous for many things, such as his bent bell horn and how he puffed his cheeks so far out it almost looked impossible. Dizzy was a nice guy that just about everybody liked. He played with some of the greatest jazz artists ever, including Arturo Sandoval, Machito, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, and his main partner Charlie Parker. Dizzy and Charlie created a new style of music in the early 1940's called be-bop. One example of be-bop is the song "Koko". It's incredibly fast, and the bands were a lot smaller than swing bands. Be-bop wasn't the only type of jazz that Dizzy played. He was without a doubt the greatest latin jazz trumpeter ever, and he also played in big bands. He had his own big band in the mid 50's. Some members in the band were Lee Morgan (who was 15 when he joined) on trumpet, Benny Golson on tenor saxophone (he also composed a lot of the band's music), Chano Pozo on percussion, and Melba Litson on trombone. Melba also arranged a lot of the band's music.

One of Dizzy's greatest albums was "Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods" with Machito. It was a latin jazz album, that had only four songs in about 32 minutes. The best track on the album was probably number one, "Oro, Incienso y Mirra". It was almost sixteen minutes long (it took up about half the album's time), and featured both Dizzy and his keyboard player, Chico O' Farrill (Chico also composed and arranged the music for the album).

Like everybody, Dizzy experienced many deaths of friends during his career; Charlie Parker died in 1953, Clifford Brown died in 1956, and Miles Davis died in 1991. He helped Arturo Sandoval leave Cuba to come to America. Like Dexter Gordon and Herbie Hancock in the movie "'Round Midnight", Dizzy was seen on tv. Dizzy was featured on an episode of "The Cosby Show". He played an elementery band director who was supposed to help Bill's daughter play clarinet for a concert. He was also mentioned in a large number of other films. Charles S. Dutton played Dizzy in "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story" with Andy Garcia as Arturo Sandoval. He was also played by Samuel E. Wright in Clint Eastwood's "Bird" with Forest Whitaker as Charlie Parker.

When Dizzy died in 1993, there were few great jazz artists still living. Among the few who were still playing were vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Percy Heath, and organ player Jimmy Smith. Today, there are artists who are similar to Dizzy, or even play his music. Arturo Sandoval made the soundtrack to the movie "For Love or Country" in 2000 and featured Dizzy's "Manteca", "Night in Tunisia", and a song called "Blues for Diz", which he dedicated to Dizzy.
Dizzy Gillespie photo 1

Dizzy Gillespie DVD

Dizzy Gillespie concert poster
Selected Discography (In Order of Release Date):
1. Groovin' High - (1946)
1. Blue 'n' Boogie
2. Groovin' High
3. Dizzy Atmosphere
4. All the Things You Are
5. Salt Peanuts
6. Hot House
7. Oop Bob Sh' Bam
8. That's Earl Brother
9. Our Delight
10. One Bass Hit, Pt. 2
11. Things to Come
12. Ray's Idea
13. Emanon
Groovin' High album cover
2. Bird and Diz - (1950)
1. Bloomdido
2. My Melancholy Baby
3. Relaxin' With Lee
4. Leap Frog
5. An Oscar for Treadwell
6. Mohawk
Bird and Diz album cover
3. School Days - (1951)
1. Lady Be Good
2. Pop's Confessin'
3. Nobody Knows the Trouble
4. Bopsie's Blues
5. I Couldn't Beat the Rap
6. School Days
7. I'm in a Mess
8. Umbrella Man
9. Love Me, Pretty Baby
10. We Love to Boogie
School Days album cover
4. Afro - (1954)
1. Manteca Theme
2. Contraste
3. Jungla
4. Rhumba-Finale
5. A Night in Tunisia
6. Con Alma
7. Caravan
Afro album cover
5. At Newport - (1957)
1. Dizzy's Blues
2. School Days
3. Doodlin'
4. Manteca
5. I Remember Clifford
6. Cool Breeze
7. Selections from Zodiac
8. Carioca
9. A Night in Tunisia
At Newport album cover
6. Sonny Side Up (With Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt) - (1957)
1. On the Sunny Side of the Street
2. The Eternal Triangle
3. After Hours
4. I Know That You Know
Sonny Side Up album cover
7. Have Trumpet, Will Excite! - (1959)
1. My Man
2. Moonglow
3. There Is No Greater Love
4. St. Louis Blues
5. Always
6. My Heart Belongs to Daddy
7. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away)
8. Woody 'N' You
Have Trumpet, Will Excite! album cover
8. Gillespiana - (1961)
1. Prelude
2. Blues
3. Panamericana
4. Africana
5. Toccata
6. Manteca
7. This Is the Way
8. Ool - Ya - Koo
9. Kush
10. Tunisian Fantasy
Gillespiana album cover
9. Jambo Caribe - (1964)
1. Fiesta Mojo
2. Barbados Carnival
3. Jambo
4. Trinidad, Hello
5. Poor Joe
6. And Then She Stopped
7. Don't Try to Keep Up with the Joneses
8. Trinidad, Goodbye
Jambo Caribe album cover
10. The Cool World - (1964)
1. Theme from the Cool World       
2. Pushers, The
3. Enter, Priest
4. Duke's Awakening
5. Duke On the Run
6. Street Music
7. Bonnie's Blues
8. Coney Island
9. Duke's Fantasy
10. Coolie
11. Duke's Last Soliloquy
12. Theme from Exodus
13. Moon River
14. Ceasar and Cleopatra Theme
15. Days of Wine and Roses
16. Walk On the Wild Side
17. More
18. Love Theme from Lolita
19. Theme from Picnic
20. Never On Sunday
21. Theme from Lawrence of Arabia
22. Carioca
The Cool World album cover
11. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac - (1967)
1. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac
2. Mas Que Nada
3. Bye
4. Something in Your Smile
5. Kush
Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac album cover
12. The Giant - (1973)
1. Manteca
2. Alone Together
3. Brother "K"
4. Wheatleigh Hall
5. Stella by Starlight
6. I Waited for You
7. Girl of my Dreams
The Giant album cover
13. Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods (With Machito) - (1975)
1. Oro, Incienso y Mirra
2. Calidoscopico
3. Pensativo
4. Exubernate
Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods album cover
14. Bahiana - (1975)
1. Carnival
2. Samba
3. Barcelona
4. In the Land of the Living Dead
5. Behind the Moonbeam
6. Truth, The
7. Pele
8. Olinga
Bahiana album cover
15. Jazz Maturity - (1978)
1. Quasi-Boogaloo
2. Take the "A" Train
3. I Cried for You (Now It's Your Turn to Over Me)
4. Drebirks
5. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
6. Indiana
Jazz Maturity album cover
16. To a Finland Station (With Arturo Sandoval) - (1982)
1. Wheatleigh Hall
2. First Chance
3. And Then She Stopped
4. Rimsky
To a Finland Station album cover
17. Verve Jazz Masters 10 - (1992)
1. Manteca
2. November Afternoon
3. A Night in Tunisia
4. Tour de Force
5. Trumpet Blues
6. Con Alma
7. I Can't Get Started / 'Round Midnight
8. Africana
9. Birks' Works
10. Desafinado
11. Leap Frog (Take 5)
12. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac
Verve Jazz Masters 10 album cover
18. Night in Tunisia - (1996)
1. Night in Tunisia
2. Emanon
3. Chga de Saudade
4. Con Alma
5. This is the Way
6. Kush
Night in Tunisia album cover
19. Diz 'n' Bird at Carnegie Hall - (1997)
1. Night in Tunisia
2. Dizzy Atmosphere
3. Groovin' High
4. Confirmation
5. Koko
6. Cool Breeze
7. Relaxin' at Camarillo
8. One Bass Hit
9. Nearness of You
10. Salt Peanuts
11. Cubana Be, Cubana Bop
12. Hot House
13. Toccata for Trumpet
14. Oop-Pop-A-Da
15. Things to Come
Diz 'n' Bird at Carnegie Hall album cover
20. Ken Burns Jazz - (2000)
1. Pickin' the Cabbage
2. Disorder at the Border
3. Salt Peanuts
4. I Can't Get Started
5. A Night in Tunisia
6. Dizzy Atmosphere
7. Groovin' High
8. Things to Come
9. One Bass Hit No. 2
10. Manteca
11. Bloomdido
12. Tin Tin Deo
13. Birk's Works
14. The Eternal Triangle
15. No More Blues (Chega de Saudade)
16. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac
Ken Burns Jazz album cover
The 50 Greatest Dizzy Gillespie Songs:
1. Night in Tunisia
2. Manteca
3. Salt Peanuts
4. Groovin' High
5. Dizzy Atmosphere
6. Flamingo
7. Con Alma
8. Birk's Works
9. I Can't Get Started
10. Oop Bop Sh'Bam
11. I Remember Clifford
12. Things to Come
13. Summertime
14. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac
15. One Bass Hit No. 2
16. Wheatleigh Hall
17. Autumn Leaves
18. Hot House
19. Doodlin'
20. All the Things You Are
21. Stormy Weather
22. Lullaby of the Leaves
23. Cherokee
24. Oro, Incienso de Mirra
25. Carnival
26. Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)
27. Pickin' the Cabbage
28. Bloomdido
29. No More Blues (Chega de Saudade)
30. Tin Tin Deo
31. The Eternal Triangle
32. Kush
33. Bang! Bang!
34. Mas Que Nada
35. Girl of My Dreams
36. Two Bass Hit
37. Anthropology
38. Blue n' Boogie
39. That's Earl Brother
40. My Melancholy Baby
41. On the Alamo
42. Shaw Nuff
43. East of the Sun
44. Disorder at the Border
45. Mean to Me
46. One Bass Hit No. 1
47. A Handfulla Gimme
48. Pensativo
49. School Days
50. Desafinado
Dizzy Gillespie Quotes
"I don't care much about music. What I like is sounds."

"It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play."

"Men have died for this music. You can't get more serious than that."

"Bop is at the end of the road. Now everybody wants dance music."

"Some days you get up and put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die and the horn wins."

"I try to play the bare essence, to let everything be just what it's supposed to be."

"As a musician you have to keep one foot back in the past and have one foot forward into the future."

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your magnificent indifference."
Placements On DigitalDreamDoor Lists
(as of 04/2015):
Greatest Jazz Trumpeters - #3
Greatest Jazz Artists - #6
Greatest Jazz Albums
   #46 Bird & Diz - Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie
Greatest Jazz Instrumentals
   #23 - A Night In Tunisia
   #67 - Manteca

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