Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

John Birks Gillespie - Music is the Best

I have Dizzy Gillespie on my mind this morning. As a mediocre high school trombonist, I had the incredible opportunity to play in a youth jazz band that backed up Dizzy at an afternoon concert during the Monterey Jazz Festival many years ago. We were a bunch of slack-jawed, awe-struck teenagers; he was beyond cool. His playing caused our hair to stand up on our heads. He was fast, his ideas exploded in every direction, he was chromatic, he burned on those Latin tunes, he sang goofy be-bop ditties, he had us playing way over our heads. Dizzy was generous and kind to us - no Miles Davis attitude at all. (He was no cream puff, however - he once had an argument with Cab Calloway and pulled a knife. Cab turned and ran, so Dizzy cut him in the ass - it took 20 stiches to close Cab's wound). After the concert, many of the swaggering high school jazz stars wept like baby girls.

We lost Dizzy in early January, eleven years ago. I listen to his music regularly. When I do, I think of Frank Zappa's classic "prose poem:"

"Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music
Music is the best."
Frank Zappa (1940-1993)

No comments: