Today would have been Dizzy Gillespie’s 93rd birthday! He was a pioneer, an educator, a virtuoso, and one of my all time favorite performers.
Dizzy was born in 1917 which was a great year for music. “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” “For Me And My Gal,” and “Tishomingo Blues” were all published that year along with “Darktown Strutters’ Ball.”
One of Dizzy’s first professional jobs was with Teddy Hill’s Orchestra. Here’s “King Porter Stomp.” One of the You Tube commenters says this record has Dizzy’s first recorded solo!
Of course, Dizzy is probably best know as one of the pioneers of the bebop sound in the 40s. Here is a video I had never seen. It’s from 1947 and the song is “He Beeped When He Should Have Bopped.” The blurb says it’s a soundie but I’m not sure. It really doesn’t matter though, it’s just a fun and rare look at one of the greats.
Even though he contracted pancreatic cancer, Dizzy continued to work until 1993 which was the year of his death. Here he is in 1988 in a clip from a short lived jazz show. The song is “Tin Tin Deo” It’s a wonderful example of Afro-Cuban jazz which Dizzy also pioneered.
Dizzy’s performances always had a great sense of humor and whimsy. So I leave you with one of my favorite clips from one of my favorite shows. Here’s Dizzy with some Muppets!
Happy birthday to one of the great ones.
The first time I heard “Lydia The Tattooed Lady” was on the Muppet Show. The second time was an episode of “Kids In The Hall” oddly enough. This video is from the 1939 movie “At The Circus.” I just watched the film for the first time this morning and it’s awesome! Not only is it filled with Marx Brothers’ trademark humor but it also has Harpo’s fantastic harp version of “Blue Moon,” another great jazz number called “Swingali,” and of course Groucho’s iconic number.
Even though I hadn’t watched many Marx Brothers films until recently, I was always a big Groucho fan. I watched “You Bet Your Life” reruns religiously when I was a kid. Imagine my delight when we moved to California and I learned that a friend of my mom’s new husband was Groucho’s housekeeper! She’d worked for him for years then she retired after his passing in 1977. Despite my frequent fangirl grillings though, she never would say much about him. All she’d ever say was “He was a good man and I was sad when he died.” I never really thought about it before but I bet if tabloids had been offering huge payments for “…Final Days” stories back then, she wouldn’t have taken the money. I think Groucho must have been a great man to inspire such loyalty in his employees. I’m glad to have known a woman with such integrity and respect for the privacy of her employer too. I must confess though, that I am a bit bummed that there’s really nothing more to this story. Now all I can do is apologize for making you all sit through what has to be the Worst. Anecdote. EVER! But hey, at least it has Groucho in it, right?