Dizzy Gillespie was born on this day in 1917.  I have always maintained that, if anything, Gillespie is an under-appreciated figure in the jazz pantheon.  His discipline kept Charlie Parker at least somewhat in check, and his mentoring is what helped the young Miles Davis reach his full potential.  Gillespie’s wisdom, erudition, and generosity were especially important in the bebop era, when jazz had largely left the dance halls but had not yet been institutionalized as an art form.  The temptations of 52nd Street proved too much for too many promising jazzmen.  We are fortunate for the measure of stability he brought to the scene, let alone his catalog.  Personally I have always been partial to his Afro-Cuban period.  In honor of the trumpeter’s birthday the Smithsonian tells us the tale of how it acquired one of the great man’s distinctive instruments.

 Dizzy Gillespie, 1988

(Image/Pino Alpino)