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Dizzy Gillespie

(1917 -1993)

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, along with Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk ushered in the era of Bebop in the American jazz tradition. A regular at the legendary Minton’s – Dizzy spent many years in other folks bands, being shunned or often fired for his musical risk taking and antics.   Dizzy eventually started his own band and was a huge success.

Among his proteges and collaborators are Chano Pozo, the great Afro-Cuban percussionist; Lalo Schifrin the great Argentinian composer and pianist, Danilo Perez, a master pianist and composer from Panama; Arturo Sandoval, trumpeter, composer, and music educator originally from Cuba; Mongo Santamaria, an Afro-Cuban conguero, bongeuro, and composer; David Sanchez, saxophonist, and composer; Chucho Valdes, an Afro-Cuban virtuoso pianist and composer,and  Jon Faddis uncle of the great hiphop producer Otis Jackson aka Madlib. Many Latin jazz classics such as “Manteca,” “A Night in Tunisia,” and “Guachi Guaro [Soul Sauce]” were composed by Gillespie and his musical collaborators.

With a strong sense of pride in his Afro-American heritage, he left a legacy of musical excellence that embraced and fused all musical forms, but particularly the music of Cuba, other Latin American countries, and the Caribbean. Additionally, he left a legacy of goodwill and good humor that infused jazz musicians and fans throughout the world with the genuine sense of jazz’s ability to transcend national and ethnic boundaries. 

A Night in Tunisia is a jazz anthem and also forms the basis of Jazz Music by the hiphop duo Gangstarr.

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