A biography of the American jazz trumpeter follows his career from the swing, bebop, and big band performances of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, through his recordings in the early 1990s - (Baker & Taylor)
Dizzy Gillespie was one of the most important and best-loved musicians in jazz history. With his horn-rimmed glasses, goatee, jive talk, and upraised trumpet bell, he was the hipster who most personified bebop. The musical heir to Louis Armstrong, he created the modern jazz trumpet-playing style and dazzled aficionados and popular audiences alike for over 50 years.
In this first full biography, Alyn 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 1930s, his innovative bebop work 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. Along the way, Shipton convincingly argues that Gillespie--rather than Charlie Parker as is widely believed--had the greatest role in creating bebop, playing in key jazz groups, teaching the music to others, and helping to develop the first original bebop repertory. Shipton also explores the dark side of Dizzy's mostly sunny personal life, his womanizing, the illegitimate daughter he fathered and supported--now a respected jazz singer in her own right--and his sometimes needless cruelty to others.
For anyone interested in jazz and one of its most innovative and appealing figures, Groovin' High is essential reading. - (Oxford University Press)
/*Starred Review*/ Groovin' High, the first full biography of the late, great jazz trumpeter since his death in 1993, may be the definitive one. It seems that British jazz critic Shipton has left no stone unturned in compiling this very complete portrait of the life of John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie. He has mined every imaginable source for his book, interviewing musicians, poring over articles in the music press, and even checking musicians' union records to separate fact from fiction. In parts the book suffers from too much detail, potentially smothering the casual reader. But a life as rich and colorful as Dizzy's will captivate anyone with knowledge of or curiosity about jazz, and Shipton does his subject justice. He starts with Gillespie's poor childhood in South Carolina, where he first taught himself to play, continuing through the big bands of the '40s and '50s. Most captivating are the descriptions of Dizzy leading a big band on goodwill tours for the U.S. State Department, charming audiences in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Central America as an international "Ambassador of Jazz." An excellent book. ((Reviewed May 15, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews