As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed to the public as of Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time.
Dizzy Gillespie was a jazz trumpeter and hip spirit who brought together the musical worlds of jazz and Latin music. Gillespie first played with the Cab Calloway and Billy Eckstine big bands, then teamed up with Charlie Parker in New York City to create bebop, transforming jazz into its modern form. Gillespie’s unique style of beret, goatee, and black-rimmed glasses was as influential as his music and much imitated by jazz musicians, fans, and rebels. A rare combination of class clown and musical mentor, Gillespie collaborated with the Cuban master drummer Chano Pozo to bring polyrhythms into jazz. In 1956 he traveled as a jazz ambassador and created goodwill in Africa and Asia by playing with local musicians on compositions like "A Night in Tunisia" and speaking frankly about U.S. race relations. He was married for fifty years to Lorraine Willis and was a lifelong member of the Baha’i faith. This noirish photograph once belonged to Billie Holiday.