Dizzying Heights (fast version)

by Teresa & Paul Jennings

This year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of John Birks Gillespie's date of birth. "Dizzy" Gillespie (as he was known) was born in South Carolina on October 21, 1917. A renowned trumpet player, he was also an early and influential performer and writer of bebop jazz and of music in the Afro-Cuban movement.

Legend has it, in 1948, he added another well-known symbol of his career. As he rode his bicycle one day, he was struck by an automobile, bending up his favorite trumpet, turning the bell to a 45 degree ascending angle. While the damage shortened his range a bit, Dizzy liked the sound so much that he had several trumpets created with this unique shape. (When this writer played with Dizzy in the 1970s, he was playing such an instrument.)

When looking at pictures of Dizzy or films of his performances, you will note that his cheeks puff out like a puffer fish. This is not a gimmick but rather a benign medical condition that expanded the area around his larynx. It caused him no pain.

To celebrate his birthday anniversary, we have created a fun-to-play, bop-style tune for your young recorder players. The complex at times, fast melody is played by our jazz group while your recorder players are only required to play the notes B, A, and G.

For flexibility, we're giving you the tune in two tempos. The faster, more realistic bop version is on the recording. The slower version can be found as a download, as can the piano/recorder score, and an instrumental combo performance just for fun.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.