Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dizzy Gillespie: “A Night in Tunisia” (1958)

This is Dizzy Gillespie performing "A Night in Tunisia" at Cannes in 1958 with Kenny Clark on drums.

John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (1917 – 1993) was an jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer. He was born in Cheraw, South Carolina, the youngest of nine children. Dizzy's father was a local bandleader, so instruments were made available to Dizzy. He started to play the piano at the age of 4. Together with Charlie Parker, he was a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz as well as Afro-Cuban jazz,.

Gillespie's image is almost inseparable from his trademark trumpet whose bell was bent at a 45 degree angle rather than a traditional straight trumpet. According to Gillespie's autobiography, this was originally the result of accidental damage caused during a job on January 6, 1953, but the constriction caused by the bending altered the tone of the instrument, and Gillespie liked the effect. By June, 1954, Gillespie was using a professionally manufactured horn of this design, and it was to become a visual trademark for him for the rest of his life.

You can see and hear “A Night in Tunisia” performed here by The Jazz Messengers.

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