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Dizzy : the life and times of John Birks Gillespie
Donald L. Maggin
Adult Nonfiction ML419.G54 M34 2005

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Following up on his 1996 biography, Stan Getz, Maggin offers this engrossing, if somewhat sanitized, portrait of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. The author, a journalist and concert promoter, follows his subject from the North Carolina cotton fields where the young scrapper taught himself trumpet to the astronomic heights of mid-20th century jazz and on to Dizzy?s final, brave struggle with pancreatic cancer. Along the way, readers are treated to anecdotes of New York City apartment jam sessions steaming with ham and grits, knife fights with Cab Calloway and Gillespie?s trademark puffed out cheeks. Of course, Gillespie?s story is also the story of jazz, and Maggin does a fine job of noting the social changes that helped shape its historical arc: Depression-era innovation, booming war-economy big bands, racial politics, the rise of the suburban leisure class and the death-knell of TV and the Beatles. Through it all, Dizzy adapted to become one of the world?s most beloved entertainers. The highlight of Dizzy?s career was his gig as ?goodwill ambassador? in the employ of the U.S. State Department. Charged with the task of improving America?s poor civil rights image during the Cold War, Gillespie traveled far and wide with his all-star band, including to South America and the Middle East, to which he brought the distinctly American idea of jazz for the first time. The significant innovations he made in Be-Bop and Latin-Jazz are clearly expounded with musical analysis that can be understood by everyone. Various other jazz heavies appear in the exhaustive interview and article excerpts, lending accuracy and balance. Though Maggin?s glimpses of Dizzy?s moral shortcomings are scant and exculpatory, his work is nonetheless an inspiring account of what genius and conviction can do. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

Maggin (Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz) has produced an important biography of Dizzy Gillespie, the 20th-century jazz giant who spearheaded the bebop and Latin movements. Included here are details on his personal life and the development of his compositional and trumpet-playing style, drawn from previously published sources as well as interviews with Gillespie's family members and fellow musicians. Although a good deal of the biographical information duplicates that found in Alyn Shipton's Groovin' High, there is more than enough new material here. Of particular interest are Maggin's exploration of Gillespie's Baha'i faith and the important insights he gleaned from interviews with the likes of Stan Levey, Mike Longo, and Max Roach. The occasional adjectival superlative and a few cumbersome musical explanations-too detailed for the lay reader but probably not detailed enough for the musician-jazz connoisseur-distract, but overall this is an inclusive, well-documented, and honest analysis of Gillespie's work and place in American music. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.-James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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