Dizzy Gillespie Dies

On January 6, 1993, Dizzy Gillespie, the last of the primary originators of Be-Bop jazz, died in Englewood, New Jersey.

The trumpeter-composer-bandleader had laid the foundation of modern jazz with pianist Thelonius Monk, drummer Kenny Clarke, guitarist Charlie Christian, and alto saxophonist Charlie "Yardbird" Parker.

In the 1940s, jazz thrived at venues such as the Three Deuces, the Troubador, and the Famous Door which shared the stretch of 52nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues with strip clubs and restaurants. The area was alternately refered to as "Swing Lane" and "Be-Bop Alley" and often simply called "The Street."

He died of pancreatic cancer January 6, 1993, aged 75, and was buried in the Flushing Cemetery, Queens, New York. Mike Longo delivered a eulogy at his funeral. He was also with Gillespie on the night he died, along with Jon Faddis and a select few others.

At the time of his death, Dizzy was survived by his widow, Lorraine Willis Gillespie; a daughter, jazz singer Jeanie Bryson; and a grandson, Radji Birks Bryson-Barrett. Gillespie had two funerals. One was a Bahá'í funeral at his request, at which his closest friends and colleagues attended. The second was at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York open to the public.

Dizzy Gillespie, a Bahá'í since 1970, was one of the most famous adherents of the Bahá'í Faith which helped him make sense of his position in a succession of trumpeters as well as turning his life from knife-carrying roughneck to global citizen, and from alcohol to soul force, in the words of author Nat Hentoff, who knew Gillespie for forty years. He is often called the Bahá'í Jazz Ambassador. He is honored with weekly jazz sessions at the New York Bahá'í Center.

Be-bop is a way of phrasing and accenting. The accent is on the up beat. Instead of OO-bah it's oo-BAH. Different chords too. And lots of flatted 5ths and 9ths. There's lots more to it. But just now I can't think of what. ”

— Dizzy Gillespie