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A jazz trumpeter and composer, Dizzy Gillespie played with Charlie Parker and developed the music known as "bebop." His best-known compositions include "Oop Bob Sh' Bam," "Groovin' High," "Salt Peanuts" and "A Night in Tunisia."
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In the late 1950s, Gillespie performed with Duke Ellington, Paul Gonsalves and Johnny Hodges on Ellington's Jazz Party (1959). The following year, Gillespie released A Portrait of Duke Ellington (1960), an album dedicated to Ellington also featuring the work of Juan Tizol, Billy Strayhorn and Mercer Ellington,
son of the legendary musician. Gillespie composed most of the album's recordings, including "Serenade to Sweden," "Sophisticated Lady" and "Johnny Come Lately."
Gillespie's memoirs, entitled To BE or Not to BOP: Memoirs of Dizzy Gillespie (with Al Fraser), were published in 1979. More than a decade later, in 1990, he received the Kennedy Center Honors Award.
Dizzy Gillespie died on January 6, 1993, at age 75, in Englewood, New Jersey.
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With its roots in the blues, jazz has been referred to as America's classical music, yet has also become a major global phenomenon, branching off into a variety of forms. Earlier pioneers like Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton paved the way for the swinging big-band sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. In contrast, contemporaries Dizzie Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk developed bebop, with its speedy, dissonant harmonies and improvisations. And Miles Davis heralded the birth of cool jazz, modal jazz and fusion at different points in his career. Famous jazz instrumentalists have tended to be male, yet women have been at the forefront of the genre when it comes to vocalization, from the brassy blues of Bessie Smith to the haunting eclecticism of Nina Simone.
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