This is the first post of my new Summer Jazz series, highlighting University of Idaho Library’s International Jazz Collections. Here we have jazz great Dizzy Gillespie’s sunglasses and hat.
Dizzy (John Birks) Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina in 1917. His father, a local bandleader, had him playing the piano at age four. The elder Gillespie, however, died when his son was ten, leaving John to learn music on his own. At twelve he was playing trombone; at thirteen, trumpet. A music (and sports) scholarship enabled him to attend the Laurinburg Institute, in Laurinburg, North Carolina, but he left the school in 1935. He soon joined the Frankie Fairfax Band in Philadelphia, and there picked up his nickname “Dizzy” for his on stage clowning. Through a succession of other jobs in other bands he began developing his own distinctive style of play, finally finding a place to express this style, christened “bebop,” when, with Charlie Parker, he joined the Earl Hines band in 1942. He moved on to other bands and bebop followed. Quickly accepted by some fans and musicians, and just as quickly rejected by others, bebop nonetheless helped define post-war jazz in the U.S. and in Europe. At the time of his death, in January of 1993, Dizzy was one of the most widely recognized and admired jazz musicians both within the jazz community and in wider culture.
IJC MG 7: Collection on Dizzy Gillespie, circa 1987-2000
Box 3: Fez. Gray, velvet, brimless. Ceremonial/Masonic quality. Silver color passmenterie embellishment around bottom of crown. Four inch diameter circle of embellishment at center top. One inch pom pom at center top. Four rosettes, flat metal beads around top center medallion, and forming words around crown: Bashere of Iperu. Green and white striped fabric lining. Sunglasses. Gold color metal frames with ersatz tortoise shell bows. Engraved on both sides of frame where they join bows with hinges: Vogart. On right bow: Vogart by Eastern States model 3089 CE. Accompanies a brocade case with optician’s name and address printed inside.