Have A Boppin’ 100th Anniversary, Mr. John Birks Gillespie! — The Story of „How I Met The Great Dizzy Gillespie“


I hope you didn’t think I was playing with Diz? — That’s absolutely not the case.

It was in May 1990 where I met him at first for just the seconds it took to present him a demo-cassette of my septet Blue Seven & The Ghosts I had the doubtful pleasure to lead then.

He performed in Köln (Cologne) with his quintet which I did not appreciate very much because these guys just were a pick-up-group (Sorry, but I definitely erred here. This was no “pick-up-group” for sure: Dizzy Gillespie (tp) Ron Holloway (ts) Ed Cherry (g) John Lee (b) Ignacio Berroa (d) – Cologne Philharmonic, Wednesday, May 2, 1990). But he really blew great as ever, with wit and spirit, especially during ‘Round Midnight which I still remember being a highlight of this concert.

The 1st Meeting

The „meeting“ happened right after the concert. I kept him from walking straight from the Kölner Philharmonie to his hotel with just saying: „Hey Mr. Gillespie! I don’t want anything from you. – I got something for you!“ He took the tape, holding it far away from his far-sighted eyes, then looking at his road-manager saying: „I made a mistake. I stood still!“ Because at once a bunch of people was surrounding him. I walked away, happy at first and then a bit worried because of Dizzy’s complete disappearing in the middle of a crowd caused by me.

In October that very same year he again performed in Cologne with his United Nation’s Orchestra I also don’t appreciate very much. But this time I couldn’t attend the concert because I performed myself with a two-trumpet-two-rhythms „avant-garde“ group called The Streetfighters.

So I wrote a small letter with a photo asking him if he’d remember me and my tape and if he’d like to give a comment, a kind of feedback. Later that day I just called him and even got him at the phone: „Hello Mr. Gillespie!“ He: „I lost the cassette!“ Me: „Oh no problem. – I got a new one for you. May I visit you tomorrow?“ He, yelling into the room, very dynamic: „At what time do we leave?“ – Short reply by an off-voice. – Then Diz again: „Okay, come at 10 o’clock.“

The 2nd Meeting

The other day I just walked into this hotel Symphonie right in front of the Philharmonie. The visit lasted three hours. I was almost silent watching my „god“ and his way of fooling around with the guys of the band. He was such a kind and funny man! I even played on his trumpet, then a light-weight Schilke I guess. Diz, in the elevator: „Cool articulation.“

Before I‘d told him: „Now I can tell all my friends ‘I played on Dizzy’s horn’!“ He: „They would wonder what kind of horn that would have been!“ Laughing his typical bleat. Later we had breakfast.

I also had the pleasure of cleaning his glasses. He frankly asked: „Bruno, what do you think of the German reunion?“ – „It’s great!“, I only replied. Right before that breakfast I asked him in the elevator about his favorite solo. He: „I’m never content with my solos on records.“ Blog owner’s proposal: Discussions among trumpeters always should take place in elevators.

In later years I could have bitten my ass (German expression) that I didn’t protest and why I didn’t praise at least his really great solo on Perdido at Massey Hall on May 15, 1953 (feel free to click for listening to the complete album).

But I just shut my mouth for almost three hours because I was so happy about meeting my master. He knew that, I guess. After asking him what he thought about my now and then favorite trumpeter/ composer Booker Little, he repeated his name with amazement and added Lee Morgan.

I said I couldn‘t play that high and fast. Dizzy stated that an improviser shouldn‘t focus on that too much. „That‘s not important, Bruno.“ — One can imagine that I felt much better after that statement.

In the lobby at the reception where he left his key, a young and quite nervous fellow came along: „Mr. Gillespie, can I have an autograph?“ Diz: „Hey man, that’s not a complete sentence. There’s a word missing. – Repeat!“ The boy repeated, now kinda scared of course: „Mr. Gillespie, can I have an autograph?“ And Diz, in pointing straight at the guy‘s breastbone: „It must be: Mr. Gillespie, may I have an autograph *please*!“ But the boy got his autograph eventually, and ran away, then a bit smaller. — Some 10 years later I learned that he is the brother of a guitarist with whom I had a gig recently.

By the way, I don’t know what happened to my cassette. I just know this: I met Dizzy right one day after his birthday. And some members of his orchestra gave him a walkman but without a cassette to play. So he must have listened to it. It contained entirely my compositions and arrangements. My band then sounded in the kind of Mingus with traces of Monk and Ellington (great company, I know!). I hope he appreciated it at least a bit.

Years later, after Dizzy’s death I searched for the photograph. I was browsing a book on Dizzy’s last tour in Europe. There I bumped by chance into the name of Charles “The Whale” Lake, who was Dizzy’s personal manager. I wrote to the editor who gave me Mr. Lake’s address. Then I wrote to Mr. Lake in Maryland. Weeks later I called him. Again weeks later I held in hand what is the only evidence of this tiny event for mankind but a great one for me.

Dizzy was a wonderful human being. There is a bitter need for people of his kind!


In my story I forgot to tell that I had – beside the demo tape – another gift for Dizzy: A piece of sweet bread which is only sold in the last October days into November, ’round St. Martin’s day. It’s called Weckmann, or – in Southern-Germany where I grew up – Dampedei, and it looks a bit like a, though light-brown voodoo-puppet.

The eyes and mouth are made of raisins. There sometimes are attached a sweet lollypop and a small clay-pipe. It was the only present which came to my mind when I was on my way to the hotel around 10 o’clock in the morning. If you want to know more about it, just ask some folks whose forefathers came from Germany. They certainly will know about this special “bread”. Dizzy looked at it, laughed out loudly and said: “Oh that’s bread!”

That’s all I can tell you about the “event”.

ⓒ Bruno Leicht, October 2007, revised in July 2013 & in October 2017.

More about Dizzy Gillespie

Our latest (recorded) version of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight is dedicated above all to my great mentor & master, the one & only Mr. John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie & to the whole band of my sisters & brothers in sound: Charlie Parker, Sonny Berman, Miles Davis, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Lennie Tristano, Martha Tilton, Glenn Miller, Charlie Barnet, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Billy May, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, John Coltrane, Anita O’Day, Eric Dolphy, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Lee Konitz, Astor Piazzolla, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Cage, Feldman & Ives … not to mention all the wonderful musicians who played with me, and who are sharing my love for the greatest music ever:


Posted in Anniversary, Celebration, Dizzy Gillespie, Jazz Stories & Tales, Invented Truths & Actual Happenings, Thelonious Monk

If it weren’t reserved for Pres, it would have been his unique feature: Coolness — HAPPY 100th ANNIVERSARY, MITCH!

Not many words, just a couple of links for further reading, watching and listening. Enjoy!

— One of my favorite films with Bob Mitchum is Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957).

— On Robert Mitchum in the Los Angeles Times (August 4, 2017).

— Go, buy at anazoom 😉

— He could also sing, and he was a composer too. Go HERE.

Posted in 1917, 2017, Anniversary, Avantgarde, Blogging is swell!, Calypso, Celebration, coolness, D-Day, Dedication, Hollywood | Tagged , , , , , ,

The Raymond Scott Quintet: TWILIGHT IN TURKEY — A musical commentary to Receipt Taliban Earth O’Cock’s weird antidemocratic policy

It’s so sad what’s happening in Turkey these days.

If you can read German, I’d recommend this article: Irrlichternder Diktator oder rationaler Machtpolitiker? Was Erdogan wollen könnte.

Now, listen to this wonderful swingin’ gem from yesteryear:

Posted in Summer 2017 | Tagged , ,

Since (almost!) absolutely nothing will change, a re-re-re-repost: FOR SOME REASON MOSTLY ALL BUT *NOT* IN THE KEY OF ‘C’ a.k.a. COLOGNE CARNIVAL 2017

Oh yeah! — That’s all (as last year!) still very, very, I mean: Absolutely kinda like super-duuper-funny.

It’s actually just laughably-ridiculously deeelightful. …LOLL.

And so: Enjoy once again!


1. While We Danced At The Mardi GrasDick Robertson & His Orchestra (1937)
2. Carnival In CarolineJerry Kruger with Cootie Williams & His Rug Cutters (1938)
3. At The Clambake CarnivalCab Calloway & His Orchestra (1938)
4. Carnival Of VeniceHorace Heidt’s Musical Knights (1939)
5. Mardi Gras MadnessBarney Bigard, Rex Stewart, Jimmy Blanton & The Duke Of Ellington (1940)
6. Mardi Gras BoogieJoe Turner (1949)
7. CarnivalArtie Shaw & His Orchestra (1942)
8. The Carnival Of VeniceHarry James & His Orchestra (1941)

I have substituted the crappy commercial mp3 of Mardi Gras Madness withHarryJames_Circle_LP_1941_a the much better sounding digitalized LP-track from my collection; and there is now a #8 on that playlist, namely Harry James’s The Carnival Of Venice from 1941, which is in my humble opinion definitely the best of all Venetian Carnivals he ever recorded, be it ‘live’ or in the studio. – Blog owner’s update: Since I updated all links and couldn’t find this particular version, I’ve posted the well known commercial recording.

I once had it on an old LP with a lot of reverb added. — Now, you have the chance to listen once again to this ultra-rare rendition, freshly transferred last night for your listening pleasure,

By yours truly,
Brewnival Lightissimus


Jerry Kruger, 1938

Folks, that’s Cootie with the Duke (*not* on that picture! – That’s Rex Stewart), and the wonderful Jerry Kruger who are celebrating their happy Carnival In C. Harry Carney blows it deeply too 😉

Okay, there are also some MG’s, namely the various Mardi Gras happenings, dancing, boogieing, and clambakeing for all our listening pleasure.

Barney Bigard, Rex Stewart, Jimmy Blanton & The Duke of Ellington (who are all jumpin’ in Mardi Gras Madness) have been extra purchased again by yours truly for this glorious occasion (it’s in the key of D-flat by the Dukish way!).

‘Hot Lips’ Page is plunging Artie’s carnival party in a kind that the syrupy strings are quickly forgotten, aren’t they?

Cheers, will say: Kölle (still in 2017) am Arsch!

The below is the Bruno-Leicht-quadruple-feature, meaning:

I’m (forever!) all 4 U, 4 da bloose, 4 da blue, 4 da bloozy-boozy-brewzy blues 😉

Posted in Big Band Vocalist, Blogging is swell!, Carnival, Delikatessen...LOLL., Etymology, Exoticism, It's been a ball!, It's gonna be a ball, Jazz Stories & Tales, Invented Truths & Actual Happenings, Madness, Mardi Gras, Swing Era | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bruno Leicht spielt: Wassermusik – Darm-Alarm & Miss K.-ATTYA, My Dearest – Cologne, September 18, 2016

Bruno Leicht spielt eine “Freeprovisation” in drei Teilen:


Ort & Zeit: Darmmodell der Felix-Burda-Stiftung vor dem Kölner Schokoladenmuseum am 18. September 2016.

Idee & Konzeption: Cornel Wachter, Köln.
Rohmaterial von Videoproduktion: Lennart Kremser, Köln.
Trompete: Bruno Leicht, Bay-In-Valley.

Cornel Wachter
Lennart Kremser
Lennart Kremser @YouTube
Bruno Leicht – Webpage

Posted in Jazz Stories & Tales, Invented Truths & Actual Happenings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BREW BAKER’s HOLIDAY THREE – ‘Live’ @Nunk Music – June 4, 2016

Here’s to you, KD, my love B0C


“THE TRANSLUCENT BLOOZE OF THE RUSSIAN MUSE” by Bruno Leicht (trumpet & composition) & Band:

“MISS K.-ATTYA, MY DEAREST” by Bruno Leicht (trumpet & composition) & Band:

Posted in Blogging is swell!, Blues, Chet Baker, Dedication, Exoticism, It's been a ball!, Jazz Rhumba, Jazz Standard, Jazz Stories & Tales, Invented Truths & Actual Happenings, June, Love, Minor Blues, Poetry, Portrait, Tongue In Cheek | Tagged , , , , , ,

Belated Happy 100th Birthday, Harry James!

You’re a great inspiration, nevertheless, you made many of us trumpeters sound like amateurs. There was never, and there will never be another you.

Although your label Columbia treated your enormous and hit-loaded recorded output between 1938 & 1954 like shit when they subsequently reissued only a handful of your works (electronic echo included!), you just went straight to Capitol, did a whole lot of fantastic albums and made them CBS-folks cry.

They didn’t deserve anything else, the poor sods.

Harry James: You were unique, one of a kind, a hell of a trumpeter.

Long live your great sounds!

Thanks for your wonderful jazz, and your lovely schmaltz too.

LIFE GOES TO A PARTY – Harry James, Buck Clayton (tp) Eddie Durham (tb) Earl Warren (as) Jack Washington (as, bar) Herschel Evans (ts) Jess Stacy (p) Walter Page (b) Jo Jones (d) – 1937

SING, SING, SING – Harry James, Ziggy Elman, Gordon Griffin (tp) Red Ballard, Vernon Brown (tb) Benny Goodman (cl) Hymie Schertzer, George Koenig (as) Arthur Rollini, Babe Russin (ts) Jess Stacy (p) Allen Reuss (g) Harry Goodman (b) Gene Krupa (d) – Carnegie Hall, NYC, January 16, 1938

ROLL ‘EM PETE – Harry James And The Boogie Woogie Trio: Harry James (tp) Pete Johnson (p) Johnny Williams (b) Eddie Dougherty (d) – December 30, 1938

To be continued … got some teaching to do in a minute 😉

Posted in Anniversary, Birthday Party, Carnegie Hall, Harry James, Jazz Stories & Tales, Invented Truths & Actual Happenings, Swing Era, Trumpet