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Dizzy Gillespie: Trumpet Pyrotechnician

We'd like to welcome Take Five, NPR Music's weekly five-song listening sampler, to A Blog Supreme. For years now, our own Lars Gotrich has helped produce these features, which spotlight great artists, styles, sounds and/or fun thematic programs. On Tuesdays, we'll run our lists here on this page. Follow the Take Five category for the full archive. --Ed.

Trumpeter John Birks Gillespie was born Oct. 21, 1917 in Cheraw, S.C. His family moved to Philadelphia when he was 14. It was there where he began picking up professional gigs. Early in his musical career, when he was playing with swing bands, he gained the nickname most know him by, "Dizzy."

Gillespie was one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time. He came into jazz through swing bands, but he had more complex melodies, harmonies and rhythms in mind. He would soon become one of the founders of the bebop jazz style (along with collaborator Charlie Parker) and a founder of Afro-Cuban jazz.

Aside from being an innovative musician, Dizzy Gillespie was also an extraordinary showman. He often clowned around, bantered with the audience and moved around onstage. Gillespie was also an educator, serving as a mentor to many great musicians who followed him.

It is hard to pick just five songs (or albums, even), but these five highlight not only Gillespie, but the many musicians who worked with and learned from him.

Get to know jazz...five songs at a time...with more Take Five lists.

Copyright 2010 90.5 WESA

Shaunna Morrison Machosky