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Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie: Shipton, Alyn

Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie

Shipton, Alyn

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ISBN 10: 0195091329 / ISBN 13: 9780195091328
Published by New York: Oxford U.P., 1999, 1999
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Atlantic Bookshop (Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.)

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8vo, publisher's boards, dustwrapper, x, 422pp. First edition, first printing. Signed by renowned jazz pianist Tommy Flanagan (1930-2001) to bassist Peter Washington (a member of Flanagan's 1990s trio). A VG/VG copy: lightly soiled edges, a small nick to the top corner of the upper board, otherwise clean, solid and attractive; bright dustwrapper with a small nick to the head of the front panel. Bookseller Inventory # ATLASGHLDG99

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie

Publisher: New York: Oxford U.P., 1999

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Dizzy Gillespie was one of the most important and best-loved musicians in jazz history. With his horn-rimmed glasses, goatee, jive talk, and upraised trumpet bell, he was the hipster who most personified bebop. The musical heir to Louis Armstrong, he created the modern jazz trumpet-playing style and dazzled aficionados and popular audiences alike for over 50 years.

In this first full biography, Alyn Shipton covers all aspects of Dizzy's remarkable life and career, taking us through his days as a flashy trumpet player in the swing bands of the 1930s, his innovative bebop work in the 1940s, the worldwide fame and adoration he earned through his big band tours in the 1950s, and the many recordings and performances which defined a career that extended into the early 1990s. Along the way, Shipton convincingly argues that Gillespie--rather than Charlie Parker as is widely believed--had the greatest role in creating bebop, playing in key jazz groups, teaching the music to others, and helping to develop the first original bebop repertory. Shipton also explores the dark side of Dizzy's mostly sunny personal life, his womanizing, the illegitimate daughter he fathered and supported--now a respected jazz singer in her own right--and his sometimes needless cruelty to others.

For anyone interested in jazz and one of its most innovative and appealing figures, Groovin' High is essential reading.


British author and BBC radio host Alyn Shipton's biography on the world-renowned puffy-cheeked trumpeter/composer/bandleader John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie is the most comprehensive to date. It's an excellent follow-up to Gillespie's 1980 memoir, To Be or Not to Bop, and it contains new interviews with many of his associates, including pianist Dave Brubeck, author John Chilton, and bassist Milt Hinton. In addition to detailing Gillespie's South Carolina origins and his mid-1940s co-creations of bebop and Latin jazz (with drummer Kenny Clarke, saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonious Monk, and composer Mario Bauza), the author penetrates his fun-loving, goatee-sporting, beret-wearing, and generally zany façade. "This was bizarre behavior indeed," writes Shipton, "but part of a pattern that led more than one commentator to the conclusion that Dizzy was 'crazy like a fox,' a shrewd operator who meticulously filed away in his mind any shred of fact or information that might come in handy some day." Shipton reveals him to be a man who sometimes angered and alienated his fellow musicians, as evidenced by trumpeter's infamous spitball affair with Cab Calloway; his fathering of a daughter by a white woman out of wedlock in 1958, and his spiritual quest for world brotherhood as a member of the Islam-based Baha'i faith. Shipton's portrait of Gillespie in his final years in the late '80s and '90s as the leader of his multiracial United Nation Orchestra is that of an elder statesman, cultural ambassador, and musical innovator. "With his death," Shipton writes, "the world lost a man who had revolutionized jazz, gave it a set of principles on which it could develop musically, and shown by example how to create within those principles at the highest level." --Eugene Holley, Jr.

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