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Dizzy Gillespie was one of the most important and best-loved musicians in jazz history. With his horn-rimmed glasses, goatee, jive talk, and upraised trumpet bell, he was the hipster who most personified bebop. The musical heir to Louis Armstrong, he created the modern jazz trumpet-playing style and dazzled aficionados and popular audiences alike for over 50 years.
In this first full biography, Alyn Shipton covers all aspects of Dizzy’s remarkable life and career, taking us through his days as a flashy trumpet player in the swing bands of the 1930s, his innovative bebop work in the 1940s, the worldwide fame and adoration he earned through his big band tours in the 1950s, and the many recordings and performances which defined a career that extended into the early 1990s. Along the way, Shipton convincingly argues that Gillespie–rather than Charlie Parker as is widely believed–had the greatest role in creating bebop, playing in key jazz groups, teaching the music to others, and helping to develop the first original bebop repertory. Shipton also explores the dark side of Dizzy’s mostly sunny personal life, his womanizing, the illegitimate daughter he fathered and supported–now a respected jazz singer in her own right–and his sometimes needless cruelty to others.
For anyone interested in jazz and one of its most innovative and appealing figures, Groovin’ High is essential reading.
“An extraordinarily detailed biography of one of the legends of jazz that focuses primarily on Gillespie’s music….Shipton has written a fine tribute to one of the greats of jazz.”–Salem Press
“This well-researched and well-written biography is an indispensable source of information about Dizzy Gillespie. Thank you, Alyn Shipton!”–Thomas Owens, author of Bebop, the Music and Its Players “Dizzy Gillespie did more than change jazz. He also challenged our most deeply held views on what a jazz musician could be and do. Alyn Shipton is the perfect writer to tackle this subject, because he too is adept at challenging the conventional wisdom. Shipton has carefully researched his subject, and writes with conviction, honesty and passion. Finally we have abook that tells the whole story of this remarkable artist and his music.” –Ted Gioia, author of The History of Jazz “Alyn Shipton’s Groovin’ High skillfully surveys the career of John Birks ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie, a musical innovator who never turned his back on the entertainor’s role. The book leaves a fresh, vivid impression of the man and the artist whose changing place in the jazz tradition is traced over more than sixty years.” –Richard Crawford, School of Music, The University of Michigan “Shipton has fulfilled the need for a biography rich in detail and analysis. Providing surprising and convincing insight into the development of bebop, Shipton’s depth of understanding of the birth of this vibrant movement, together with on target analysis of Gillespie’s recorded output, makes this an exceptional tribute.”–Library Journal
About the Author
Alyn Shipton presents jazz programs for the BBC and is a jazz critic for The Times in London. For many years he was a music publisher, seeing into print the autobiographies of numerous jazz musicians including Barney Bigard, Buck Clayton, Andy Kirk and Rex Stewart. He has written biographies of Fats Waller and Bud Powell, and has edited the memoirs of Danny Barker and Doc Cheatham.