"Dizzy Gillespie...the other half of my heartbeat."- Charlie Parker, 1948
Charlie Parker had a volatile and highly controversial relationship with fellow jazz great Dizzy Gillespie. Despite their differences, together they formed one of the most revered collaborations in jazz history.
Our thanks to the
"Bird and Diz" Web site for the information provided below.
As if by spontaneous combustion, a number of startling recordings appeared in 1945 and early 1946 on an array of
obscure labels. Chief among them were several pieces by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie that would define a new
kind of jazz and serve as a cannon for the modern era--"Groovin' High," "Dizzy Atmosphere," "Salt Peanuts,"
"Shaw Nuff," "Hot House," "Anthropology," "Koko," "Ornithology," and "A Night in Tunisia." This explosive
new music had in fact been taking shape over the previous six or seven years.
Parker and Gillespie first met in 1940, and thus began one of the great collaborations of the twentieth century. During
the early forties, Parker was employed by Jay McShann, and Gillespie worked for Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald,
Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter and Charlie Barnet, among others. Parker and Gillespie first worked together in the
Earl Hines big band in 1943, and the next year were reunited in Billy Eckstine's legendary big band outfit.
golden period was from January 1945 to January 1946, when they frequently performed together in New York
nightclubs and on recordings, and then took their music to the West Coast for an eight week engagement at Billy
Berg's, a Hollywood nightclub.
The Berg job ended on January 4,1946, and Parker failed to appear at the airport
for the return trip east. Gillespie started working in New York, organizing a big band that he would lead until 1950.
Parker remained in Los Angeles and became mentally unstable. His problems culminated in a nervous breakdown
coupled with heroin and alcohol abuse, which led to a six-month confinement at Camarillo State Hospital. Parker
was released from Camarillo in late January 1947 and returned to New York on April 4.
The next evening he visited
the Savoy Ballroom and sat in with Gillespie's big band. In the years that followed, Parker and Gillespie made music
together again--some of it very fine music indeed -- but the remaining occasions were ad hoc, and their relationship,
always bound by a loving, mutual respect, was sometimes fractious.