Dizzy Gillespie

image for Dizzy Gillespie
Exhibition Label
Born Cheraw, South Carolina
Jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie first gained fame in the early 1940s, but his talent and staying power were such that he was still a dynamic presence on the music scene six decades later. Gillespie was barely out of his teens when he joined Cab Calloway’s legendary big band in 1939, yet the maturity of his playing was already undeniable. His solos enlivened many of Calloway’s recordings, and Gillespie’s innovative arrangements laid the groundwork for his future experiments in rhythm and composition. After meeting jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker in Kansas City in 1940, Gillespie joined Parker, pianist Thelonious Monk, and other young musicians in freewheeling jam sessions that spawned a new, energetic form of jazz known as bebop. Emerging rapidly as one of bebop’s greatest practitioners, Gillespie also played a pivotal role in introducing Afro-Cuban jazz to worldwide audiences. He toured extensively and was hailed as modern jazz’s most ebullient ambassador.
Yousuf Karsh, 23 Dec 1908 - 13 Jul 2002
Dizzy Gillespie, 21 Oct 1917 - 6 Jan 1993
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Yousuf Karsh
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Music\Musical instrument\Trumpet
Dizzy Gillespie: Male
Dizzy Gillespie: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Dizzy Gillespie: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Trumpet
Gelatin silver print
Image: 27.9 × 21.5 cm (11 × 8 7/16")
Sheet: 35.4 × 27.6 cm (13 15/16 × 10 7/8")
Mount: 35.5 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11")
Mat: 55.9 × 40.6 cm (22 × 16")
National Portrait Gallery