Gillespie's friends pay tribute in song

January 10, 1993|By New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- Dizzy Gillespie's family and some of his famou and intimate friends gathered at his funeral yesterday to say goodbye to the jazz legend in their own way -- with music.

The service was private -- the public service is 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine -- but a few of Mr. Gillespie's fans could peek through the plate-glass windows of St. Peter's Lutheran Church.

The burnished bronze casket stood at the head of the center aisle of the modernistic church, flanked by a large framed portrait of Mr. Gillespie holding his trumpet and wearing a church vestment. He died Wednesday at 75.

In front of the pulpit, framed in gold and circled by white lilies, was a bugle with its bell pointed skyward -- the trademark of Mr. Gillespie's trumpet.

To the left, sitting with their instruments, was an all-star combo to play taps -- Wynton Marsalis, Slide Hampton, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Ron Carter, Clark Terry, to name just some of the jazz giants assembled to pay final homage.

Shortly before the Rev. John Garcia Gensel opened the service, singer Tony Bennett paid his respects to Mr. Gillespie's family, then walked back to his seat and sat with his head in his hands.

Then the music started, and one by one the musicians took their solos to bid Mr. Gillespie farewell.

Earlier, as he entered the church carrying his trumpet case, Mr. Marsalis said: "He was the father of the modern trumpet style -- he was a father figure to all musicians. He always had something to teach."

Mr. Marsalis said Mr. Gillespie would be remembered "for what he was, a great man with great depth of soul and feel, a great musician."

Mr. Gillespie, with his bent trumpet and bullfrog cheeks, was at the forefront of jazz for decades, giving shape in the 1940s to the jazz reinvention he named be-bop and later merging Latin rhythms with mainstream jazz.

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