Monday, October 8, 2018

Dizzy Gillespie on the origins of bebop, heard Stravinsky in Fantasia

Once again Twitter comes through. I saw this tweet and linked on over to check out the interviews.

There they were, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington, Errol Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Haynes, Thelonious Monk...Wait! Dizzy Gillespie? He’s my man.

So I checked it out (at 3 in the effing AM). Started off with his early career, playing with Teddy Hill, admiration for Roy Eldridge, Rex Stewart, Sweets Edison. The night Rex played so beautifully it made Roy cry. Stuff like that.

And then at about 11:32 Kidd asked about the origins of bebop.

* * * * *

David Kidd: How did you devise your bop style?

Dizzy Gillespie: Who knows? (laughs) I don’t.

DK: You and Charlie Parker are definitely the ones that invented or started the modern trend in jazz. And it’s so completely removed from what happened before, that as Marshall [Stearns] said when we first heard it we didn’t know what was happening. I mean people said that there was wrong notes and a everything else, but now that our ears are attuned to it we know that they’re not wrong notes. Did you study classical harmonies or something to get those..

DG: Oh, no no. I know very little about classical music. I was reading in some magazine that Charlie was familiar with Hindemith and Bartok and all those guys. But actually I don’t know one from the other. All I know, let’s see, I know The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. I know when I hear it, when it begins, you know that part with, uh. One of the reasons that I know that is I saw the picture Fantasia, Fantasia [different pronunciation], whatever it is, and I saw the birds and the thing fly and the horses fly with it and I remember the music along with it.

Note: Diz is conflating at least two episodes in the film. There were pterodactyls in The Rite of Spring episode, but no birds. Perhaps that’s what Diz was referring to. There were no flying horses either. They were in The Pastoral Symphony episode.

DK: Well so many of these modern musicians today depend upon classical training so much for modern sounds and yet your sound has very modern intricate chord structures and everything else. You must have heard even though you didn’t, uh, weren’t aware of specific things, because you created the most marvelous original jazz form all by yourself, practically.

DG: Oh, no no nobody creates anything by himself.

DK: Well maybe that elements [?] showed up first in you but nevertheless...

DG: Nobody takes anything out of the air and just get it, just walk of to the air and say “OK here I got something different.” It has evolved from something. I think.

DK: OK. I’ll buy that, but I give you a lot of credit.

DG: [garbled] invented the electric light bulb, he must have had some kind of an experience of something that helped him, some kind of an experience that put him on that track. You just don’t get it out of the air.

DK: That’s right. I agree with you on that. Nevertheless it showed up first in you and I personally give you a lot of credit for it.

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