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John Birk's Life And Accomplishments Essay

1384 words - 6 pages

Dizzy Gillespie
John Birks, also known as “Dizzy Gillespie” was born October 21,1917. He grew up in Cheraw, South Carolina. Gillespie was the youngest of his nine siblings. Gillespie’s father was a bandleader as well as a bricklayer. His father died when he was only ten years of age. Several years after his father passed away Dizzy Gillespie became a self-taught trombone and trumpet player (“David”). His skills increased so much over time that he later learned how to play the cornet. Gillespie had a special talent for playing these instruments. He was enrolled into the Laurinburg Institute of North Carolina in 1932. The school told him that they wanted him to play for their band. During his time at the school, he practiced his instruments mostly by himself.
In 1935, Gillespie decided to shift his focus from school to family. He moved to Philadelphia with his family and joined a group whose leader was Frankie Fairfax. Charlie Shavers was also a part of the band. “Shavers knew many of the trumpet solos of Roy Eldridge, and Gillespie learned them by copying Shavers (he had previously known only a handful of phrases by Eldridge, the man who became his early role model). While he was in Fairfax's band, Gillespie's clownish behavior earned him the nickname he has carried ever since” (“Dizzy Gillespie”).
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Eventually in 1937, Dizzy Gillespie decided to head out to New York to carry out his dream of becoming a famous jazz player. During his time at New York he talked with many different bands and earned a job with Teddy Hill’s band. Hill was very impressed with Gillespie’s unique playing style. The group went on a tour from Great Britain to France shortly after Gillespie had joined the band. After getting back from the tour Gillespie worked in other groups such as the Afro-Cuban band of Alberto Socarras and Al Cooper’s Savoy Sultans. He later returned to Teddy Hill’s band.
Dizzy Gillespie joined Cab Calloway’s band in 1939. The band was one of the most highest-paid black bands in New York City during the time period. Gillespie developed an interest for jazz-fusion and Afro-Cuban music during his partnership with the band. He became friends with Mario Bauzi who was a part of Cab Calloway’s band. In 1940 Dizzy Gillespie met Charlie Parker. They met in Kansas City. They both participated in several jam sessions together after-hours in New York with Thelonious Monk and several others. This group of people created a brand new genre of music called “bebop”. According to, “Because of a recording ban instigated by union musicians during the bulk of World War II, the evolution of bebop was not documented in commercial recordings. In the postwar era, however, the revolutionary new style took the jazz world by storm and established Gillespie's international reputation. In addition to acting as one of bebop's founding fathers, Dizzy Gillespie also pioneered the fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz music in the 1940s, helping to create...

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