Here I am back from sunny Los Angeles, California. The West Coast treated me pretty well. It was unfortunate that the NY Red Bulls lost to the Columbus Crew, but hey, at least they got there. They weren’t even supposed to BE there. I was fortunate to hang with some pretty great guys and girls from ESC. See our photo here, repping the Red Bulls to the fulllest! We made some new friends in the LARS, who showed some West Coast love at a BBQ after the match. I’d also like to shout out Ben Hooper and Dunny from Bumpy Pitch. They played part in a celebrity charity football match, and they make the sweetest t-shirts around. Check them out. It was Brian from BP who gave me this idea, as he posted something earlier about The Thomas Crown Affair. Here’s Dizzy Gillespie with the the theme from the movie, “Windmills in Your Mind” on Solid State Records from 1969.
Born John Birkes Gillespie in Cheraw, South Carolina in 1917, Diz was perhaps the greatest trumpet player of all time. First playing the trombone, he switched later to the trumpet. He was a self taught player, and a good student, who eventually won himself a scholarship to an agricultural school. However, music was in his body and he quit after a year to find work as a musician. He would go from Frankie Fairfax to Teddy Hill to finally Cab Calloway’s Orchestra in the 30’s before eventually being fired over an alleged spitball incident. That was not the only reason of his dismissal, Gillespie was a chance taker, an improviser, and that was not looked upon favorably by Calloway. In fact, Diz would go on to make a name for himself actually taking chances, it was his trademark. He’d meet up with Charlie Parker after a stint in almost every Big Band, would jam at Minton’s Play House and Upstairs at Monroe’s. He joined up with Billy Eckstine, where Parker also was a member of the band. Here was the birth of Be Bop. After several attempts at putting this new music out there, and an unsuccessful stint on the West Coast, Gillespie returned to the Big Apple, where a break through would finally occur. Now Dizzy was not just known for the birth of Be Bop, he would go on to be known for the Latin infusion he would inject into his orchestra. He would add congas and Latin Rhythms, and churn out great Latin Jazz records such as “Manteca” and others. Gillespie would play with every veteran Jazz player, and his orchestra became a breeding ground for new musicians as well. By the 1950’s Bop was fading, and Diz did a ton of recording. He also headed up a Jazz band that was sponsored by the State Department to travel all over the world to spread the word of Jazz. It was quite successful. It was Dizzy along side players (as if most of these guys weren’t giants eventually) like Lee Morgan, Quincy Jones, Joe Gordon, Melba Liston, Billy Mitchell, Ernie Henry, Benny Golson, Wynton Kelly, Al Grey, and others who would wow audiences in such places as Europe, South America, and the Near East. This band lasted up to 1958. During the 160’s, Diz would be a small group leader, playing constantly and eventually getting onto the festival circuit in the 1970’s and 80’s. It was then his talent began to fade, I mean the guy was 70+ years old. When I say fade, I mean, not be like it used to be, he was still a well respected Jazz legend. Dizzy Gillespie was a teacher, a player who held no secrets, and wanted to share his knowledge with everyone.
“Windmills of Your Mind”, as I said earlier was the theme song to The Thomas Crown Affair, a brilliant movie starring Steve McQueen and remade later on with Pierce Brosnan. I ride hard for the McQueen version. Dizzy’s sped up version of this tune is just another reason why. There have been many versions of this song performed by people such as Dusty Springfield, Jose Feliciano, Barbara Lewis, Peter Nero, Dorothy Ashby, and others. The Ashby version is pretty dope, as it was sampled by Common and Rahzel. It just goes to show you, that an otherwise mellow tune can be interpreted into some Jazz, Soul, or just plain Funky. Have a Happy Turkey Day and I’ll see you next week. Keep Diggin’!