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Harlem Renaissance


    John Birks, "Dizzy", "Swollen cheeks" Gillespie touched many people through his music and trumpet playing during the Harlem Renaissance. Dizzy Gillespie impacted music during the Harlem Renaissance by becoming a world known jazz performer and legacy.

            According to Oxford University (2010), Dizzy Gillespie was raised in a poor environment and was the youngest of nine children. He was introduced to music after his father died. At age ten,  he joined the school band and taught himself to play the trombone.  "At first he played the trombone, but switched to the trumpet after borrowing a neighbor's and immediately falling in love with the instrument" (Encylopedia of world biography).

            Dizzy began touring with many bands. In Philadelphia, he joined the Frankie Fairfax band. Gillespie was taught multiple trumpet solos of Roy Eldridge who was his role model.  Gillespie had intentions to achieve dreams of becoming a well-known jazz player (Oxford University,2010 ).

            According to The Meridian International Center (2008), Dizzy Gillespie toured Africa, the middle east, Latin America, and Europe. He won over large audiences with his playful personality and talented solos. Gillespie was also a "people person". He was fascinated by local musicians and was always eager to learn new music. Dizzy would invite musicians to play with him and discover new sounds. He adopted a different form of jazz called bebop, as well as Afro-Cuban rhythms. In South America, he became intrigued in Latin jazz and was delighted to visit different regional music schools. Dizzy touched audiences in many countries.

            Through out the years of his career, "swollen cheeks" or Dizzy Gillespie became a loved icon of the Harlem Renaissance. The official website of Dizzy Gillespie (2011) states, he won many awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers' Duke Award that recognized fifty years of achievement. In 1989, President George Bush awarded Dizzy with the National Medal of Arts.

            Today he is viewed as a legacy of the Harlem renaissance. He was able to transcend ethnic boundaries and spread his joy of playing for audiences. Dizzy Gillespie united many nations with his jazz music. He touched many hearts with his trumpet solos and loving personality. His music will long live for everyone with a special admiration for Dizzy Gillespie's jazz.

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Meridian International Center. (2008). Dizzy gillespie kool kat diplomat. Retrieved from                                        /dizzy_gillespie.php

Oxford University. (2010, 20 4). Retrieved from /jazz/biography/artist_id_gillespie_dizzy.htm

Peter Watrous. (1993, January 7). Retrieved from

Unknown. (2011). The official website of dizzy gillespie. Retrieved from