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Dizzy Gillespie

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John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer.

Dizzy Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser, building on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge but adding layers of harmonic complexity previously unknown in jazz. His beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, his scat singing, his bent horn, pouched cheeks and his light-hearted personality were essential in popularizing bebop.

In the 1940s Gillespie, together with Charlie Parker, became a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz. He taught and influenced many other musicians, including trumpeters Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan a.o…

Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina, the youngest of nine children of James and Lottie Gillespie. James was a local bandleader, so instruments were made available to Dizzy. He started to play the piano at the age of four. Gillespie’s father died when the boy was only ten years old. Gillespie taught himself how to play the trombone as well as the trumpet by the age of twelve. From the night he heard his idol, Roy Eldridge, play on the radio, he dreamed of becoming a jazz musician. He received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in Laurinburg, North Carolina, which he attended for two years before accompanying his family when they moved to Philadelphia.

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