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Dizzy Gillespie Is Still A Giant

Updated on November 26, 2013

Dizzy Gillespie - The Icon

Dizzy Gillespie Blowing Bubbles
Dizzy Gillespie Blowing Bubbles | Source

Birth Of Bebop Jazz

Those huge cheeks may make him seem like a clown, but what Dizzy Gillespie brought to the jazz world was never a joke.

Dizzy's trademark upright trumpet led to a new style of improvisation and together with Charlie Parker, he ushered in the "Bebop Jazz" revolution.

He was always a crowd favorite at Jazz Festivals because of his crazy stage antics, which earned him the nickname "Dizzy."

Ultimate Dizzy Gillespie Box Set

Dizzy's Diamonds: The Best Of Verve Years
Dizzy's Diamonds: The Best Of Verve Years

In my opinion, if a jazz album is released on Verve Records, it's going to be a well produced and remastered product. We can have a philosophical debate about whether the music is "good" or not, but Verve never disappoints on production values. In total, there are 40 tracks in this box set. Dizzy enjoyed an extremely prolific career that features an amazing music catalogue that still has the occasional rare release, to this day. If you are a jazz afficionado that likes a wide variety of styles and tempos, this box set does not disappoint. If you are extremely picky about what types of jazz you enjoy hearing, this might not be the ideal fit. This box set is a perfect collection of songs to entertain guests, play while studying for exams or to relax and unwind from a long day at the office.


Some of his most famous arrangements and compositions included the classic standards : "Groovin' High", "Night in Tunisia" and "Manteca". These songs, along with several others, are considered to be "standards" or staples, which are performed by hundreds, if not thousands of jazz band programs throughout the world.

My first introduction to Dizzy Gillespie was during Jazz Band in my high school days. We also performed music from Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and others, but the Dizzy Gillespie tunes seemed to be the songs that the crowd enjoyed most at the music festivals.

During the marching season (fall), we performed a few songs during the season, in college at Oklahoma State University. Dizzy's music is timeless to this day, which is evident in the number of band directors that insist on teaching their students the brilliance of Dizzy's compositions.

Every year, in high school and colleges around the United States, jazz programs are busy practicing Dizzy's music to perform at a wide variety of competitions and festivals. The imprint that Dizzy Gillespie has left on the music world, especially in the performing arts, is nothing short of stellar. Dizzy lives on through his music.


Dizzy Gillespie Music On A Budget

Night In Tunisia: The Very Best Of Dizzy Gillespie
Night In Tunisia: The Very Best Of Dizzy Gillespie

Purists don't particularly care for Greatest Hits or Very Best Of collections, but if you're on a budget, this mp3 album is perfect for studying, relaxing or background music for parties.


Dizzy Gillespie Music Video

My Favorite Dizzy Gillespie Tunes

Here is a list of the 5 tracks that resonate with me the most. Traditionally, I prefer uptempo numbers and get a bit sleepy with the slow stuff.

  1. A Night In Tunisia - I like this song for its offbeat bass line. Delicious. The loungy/swing-esque section completely adds another dimension to the track. I enjoy how they are able to weave back and forth between the tempos. Solo is crazy, as well.

  2. Salt Peanuts - This track smokes because it's a super fast tempo and the trumpets go bonkers on the octaves. I prefer the recordings with Charlie Parker, as opposed to just Dizzy and his band. If I really broke the versions down, I just prefer a trumpet and saxophone voice, as opposed to just trumpets. Simply a matter of preference.

  3. Manteca - The beat on this track is not too fast, but definitely not slow. It's toe tapping, in a pseudo-reggae sort of way. You can also hear bits of the song "Tequilla" throughout. My favorite instrument performed on this track would be the drumming.

  4. Groovin' High - This is another classic with Charlie Parker that paints an interesting canvas. I can almost envision movie scenes or a story being told through the music. This is, yet again, another uptempo number, but in a 60s "Odd Couple" sort of way. I enjoy the piano work on this track the most. The solos are juicy, as well.

  5. Hot House - The dynamics between the upright bass and the kick drum are what keep my attention throughout this track. The solos are really groovy on this one. The bassline just keeps you following the bouncing ball, so to speak. Good stuff.

  6. Bebop - This is a very fast uptempo track with a crazy trumpet line that is hard to follow, if you aren't focused. The saxophone parts are intricate and compliment Dizzy's tenacity very well, in my opinion.

  7. And Then She Stopped - I enjoy this track in particular, thanks to the fun piano lick at the beginning. I'm also a sucker for a muted trumpet. I just like the "Charlie Brown Teacher" vibe that accompanies the sound. This is a fun song that keeps me interested.

  8. Birks Works - I have a profound respect for the marimba and anyone that can actually carry a tune on this beast of an instrument. This classic song features the marimba and is one of the main reasons I enjoy it. The sound of the mallet hitting the wood is different than any other keys-based instrument and this song from the 1950s is fun to hear.

  9. He Beeped When He Should Have Bopped - One thing you can't take away from Dizzy was his sense of humor. His song titles are legendary and this composition is great because it gives you that World War I rustic, old school jazz, vibe. This song also features vocals, which is a nice change.

  10. On The Sunny Side Of The Street - This song was always fun to play on alto saxophone. The reed parts seemed to mimic the brass lines, but then intertwined and played off of each other from time to time. This is more of a slower number, which I typically do not like, but the saxophone is a predominant feature and I enjoy the laid back feel of the song, in general.

A Bonus Dizzy Gillespie Video

Do You Like The Music Of Dizzy Gillespie?

Submit a Comment

  • ladydeonne profile image

    Deonne Anderson 4 years ago from Florence, SC

    Thanks for such a fitting tribute to Dizzy. I have fond memories of my big brother and his friends sitting around listening to Dizzy and his band after they joined the jazz band in high school. My brother wanted a bent trumpet like Dizzys but my parents told him that such a horn had to be special made. He threatened to bend his trumpet but never did. On of the trumpeters in his jazz band has a lucrative career as a band leader in Europe. Dizzy is truly one of the greatest trumpeters the world has ever known.

  • midget38 profile image

    Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

    Hi Joe! Glad to connect with a fellow Jazz performer too. I do Jazz piano as well, and play with my dad occasionally. Thanks for posting on the Hubpages Community Page. Keep it rocking! Shared!

  • Zingali profile image

    Joe Cinocca 4 years ago from Pasadena, CA

    Thanks for reading, Bob!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 4 years ago from New Brunswick

    I have great respect and admiration for Dizzy, truly one of the greats. Thanks for this hub.

  • Zingali profile image

    Joe Cinocca 4 years ago from Pasadena, CA

    Thanks Zsuzsy! I'm glad we agree!

  • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

    Zsuzsy Bee 4 years ago from Ontario/Canada

    Some of my fav music. Night in Tunesia has been on my music shelf for quite a few years. Dizzy Gillespies music is as great now as it was when he first started. Totally time-less fantastic sound.

    Great hub about one of the best jazz-er ever.

    regards Zsuzsy