Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie, 1990, by Yousuf Karsh

Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was born on this day, October 21, in 1917. His father was a bandleader, and Dizzy began playing music at four years old.

Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser, building on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge but adding layers of harmonic and rhythmic complexity previously unheard in jazz. His combination of musicianship, showmanship, and wit made him a leading popularizer of the new music called bebop. His beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, his scat singing, his bent horn, pouched cheeks and his light-hearted personality provided some of bebop’s most prominent symbols. (Wikipedia)

In 1953 Gillespie threw a party for his wife Lorraine at Snookie’s, a club in Manhattan. His trumpet’s bell got bent upward in an accident, but he liked the sound so much he had a special trumpet made with a 45 degree raised bell, which would become his trademark.