NU_OPEN
You are here:Home>Book Reviews>Groovin" High : The Life of Dizzy Gillespie by Alyn Shipton

Groovin" High : The Life of Dizzy Gillespie by Alyn Shipton

Jazz is a music full of thrilling sounds. It can also span the full breadth of human emotion from exhilaration to profound sadness, from love to alleviation, from celebration to commiseration. All the greatest jazz musicians have had the ability to touch their listeners in one or more of these areas, but, for me, Dizzy Gillespies music has managed to inhabit all of them. While simultaneously conveying more of the sheer joy and excitement of jazz than that of any musician. There are countless such moments in his recorded out put from his sure touch on his very first recorded solo in 1937 Teddy Hills' "King Porter Stomp" to the brief cameo with the United Nation Orchestra half a century later. Where his horn elbows its distinctive way between his prot?g?s and friends to making his last great statements.

A. Shipton's full biography Of Dizzy Gillespie since his death reveals one of the most significant innovators in jazz history while skillfully surveying the career of John Birks "Dizzy Gillespie" a musical innovator who never turned his back on the entertainers role. Shipton Gives a vivid impression of the man and the artist tracing his early life and examines his innovative contributions in the field of modern jazz . He further traces the worldwide fame and adoration the many recordings which define his career his relationship with other jazz musician and his dark side. We also see the artist whose changing places in the jazz tradition is traced over more than sixty years.

Dizzy (John Birks) Gillespie born in Cheraw SC Oct. 21 1917. A trumpeter composer and a bandleader. He was one of the principal developers of bop in the early 1940s he is one of the most influential players in the history of jazz. Gillespie was the youngest of nine children . His father a brick layer and weekend bandleader died when he was ten ; two years later he began to teach himself to play trombone and trumpet and later took up cornet. his musical ability enabled him to attend Laurinburg institute North Carolina in 1932 for the school needed a trumpet player for its band. During his years there he practiced the trumpet and the piano intensively still largely without formal guidance.

Shipton covers all aspects of Dizzy's remarkable life and career taking us through his days as a flashy trumpet player in the swing bands of the 30s his innovative bebop working in the 1940s the worldwide fame and adoration he earned through his big band tours in the 1950s and the many recordings and performances which defined a career that extended into the early 1990s.

Shipton further argues that Gillespie rather than Charlie Parker (as is widely believed) had the greatest roll in creating bebop playing in key jazz groups teaching the music to others and helping develop the first original bebop repertory.

Shipton explores the Gillespie-Parker relationship beginning with bands of Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine in the early 1940s to their famous 1944-46 group that set the form for bebop and culminating their extraordinary concert at Massey Hall in Toronto in 1953.

We see Dizzy's life and work for over a century supported by his long and stable marriage to Lorraine Gillespie and the world owes her a great debt for astutely managing much of his career. Shipton had not attempted to gross over sides of Dizzy's character but this is always in the knowledge that Dizzy(as he told Nat Hentoff) "Was willing to do what I did for her - walk the straight line."

The other attribute that have been mentioned countless times in many interviews is that Dizzy was a genuinely funny man.

Dizzy Gillespie was one of the most important and best loved musicians in jazz history . With his dark glasses goatee and upraised trumpet bell he was the hipster who most personified bebop.

The author provides good background on the changing musical styles and tastes of the twentieth century and includes information about Charlie Parker Cab Calloway and other Gillespie Associates.

For anyone interested in Jazz and one of it's innovative and appealing musicians Groovin High is essential reading.'Jazz is a music full of thrilling sounds. It can also span the full breadth of human emotion from exhilaration to profound sadness, from love to alleviation, from celebration to commiseration. All the greatest jazz musicians have had the ability to touch their listeners in one or more of these areas, but, for me, Dizzy Gillespies music has managed to inhabit all of them. While simultaneously conveying more of the sheer joy and excitement of jazz than that of any musician.'

Additional Info

  • Book Title: Groovin" High : The Life of Dizzy Gillespie
  • Author: Alyn Shipton
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Year Published: 1999
  • Book Type:: Biography
  • ISBN: 195091329
  • Rating: Five Stars
  • Number of Pages: 416
Login to post comments