American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer Dizzy Gillespie was a true pioneer. Gillespie scaled the heights with harmonic and rhythmic innovations in the 1940s that played a key role in transforming the musical language of jazz into thoroughly original expression that captivated audiences worldwide. Along with Charlie Parker, Gillespie pioneered the development of "Bebop" and later introduced African and Cuban elements to American jazz, widely expanding the scope of the musical genre.
Gillespie was also a vibrant personality that in many ways, seemed to encapsulate the best possibilities of an American popular artist. His effervescent personality, which included a wide variety of facial expressions and a natural gift for humor, made Gillespie a pure entertainer as much as an accomplished musician. Although he was endlessly funny and good-natured, his playing was full of virtuosic invention and deadly serious. He was a rare commodity in which these seemingly opposite facets coexisted. In the later years, his outlandish dress, outrageous personality and keen sense of humor seemed to attract more media attention than his music, which remained highly emotional and full of intensity for those who listened.
Over the last century, jazz has evolved into a major world musical form, played and appreciated in nearly every nation on the planet. Dizzy Gillespie's harmonic and rhythmic innovations had an enormous impact on virtually every subsequent trumpeter, both by the example of his playing and as a mentor to younger musicians. His specially made bell-uplifted trumpet was as unique as his ability to uplift the listener.