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Rapp on Jazz: Dizzy Gillespie, Pt. II

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Jazz giant and South Carolina native Dizzy Gillespie first worked in the trumpet sections of big bands before stepping forward to begin the small group revolution known as bebop and becoming a pioneer of Afro-Cuban jazz.

He was also the only artist to tour the world with U.S. government sponsorship, even conducting the United Nations Orchestra for a period of time during the 1980s. It is said that he often didn't need a passport while traveling for this work. Instead, he would simply put his finger to his lips, puff out his trademark cheeks, and be greeted with "Welcome, Dizzy Gillespie!" from customs officials.

Another of Gillespie's trademarks was his bent trumpet, the result of damage from dancers accidentally falling onto the instrument during a performance in 1953. The trumpet's bell pointed up at a 45-degree angle following the incident, altering the sound. Gillespie liked the new tone and had his trumpets specially made that way for the rest of his career.

This has been Rapp on Jazz, a co-production of the ColaJazz Foundation and SC Public Radio. Support for this program is made possible in part by Fox Music House of Columbia and Charleston.