Dizzy Gillespie was an international ambassador of jazz

The icon’s influence is without question and has a universality that is like a weave in a fabric. Imagine fabric as culture, and then imagine all of the different weaves that live in it, holding it together as a seeming singularity. An illusion of course, because the fabric appears as one because of the interwoven many. Culture, like the village, or the villages that make it, is a composite. For jazz, the composite is a blend of artistic expression all reaching and exploring sound and colour, attitude, harmonic and melodic language, and the journeys and adventures of the demanding spirits of its home country.

Dizzy Gillespie, or John Birks Gillespie, was not only of the composite, he was a composite. His journey as the artist was sweetly imposed by elements of international music sounds which he blended into the way he expressed himself as he played. His U.S. State Department tours of the world exposed him to many rich, cultural, artistic languages. He incorporated these experienced sounds of the world into his own established artistry and not only became an ambassador of jazz to the world, but as the dynamic jazz master ambassador, he brought the world home.

He was a jazz populist who wanted his music to be understood and enjoyed. He presented it with wit and an often comical, playful style that was as playful as his appearance. The seriousness and respect for the music he played exploited his presentation, and it manifested beautifully and perfectly in the respect of his colleagues and players who have followed and ridden his legacy.



About The Artistry of…

The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish, made possible with the support of Yamaha Canada.


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