In the early 1940s, the young jazz trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie began meeting with several other musicians, including Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker, at a New York City nightclub to explore a new form of musical expression. Out of these sessions came the infectious energy of bebop, with Gillespie as one of its pioneers and eventually its elder statesman. Aimed at evolving jazz out of its earlier swing mode, the new music initially offended some jazz traditionalists but ultimately found a niche in the popular-music mainstream. In the 1970s a critic proclaimed Gillespie “the world’s greatest trumpet [player] in or out of jazz.” His interest in African American culture is reflected in this portrait, where artist Marc Klionsky—following conversations with the musician about his heritage—flanked Gillespie with African masks.
The artist; purchased as gift for NPG by Simon Chilewich