Gillespie, Dizzy (John Birks Gillespie) gəlĕs´pē [key], 1917–93, American jazz musician and composer, b. Cheraw, S.C. He began to play the trumpet at 15 and later studied harmony and theory at Laurinburg Institute, N.C. He played with the bands of Cab Calloway and Billy Eckstine. Gillespie and Charlie Bird Parker are considered the leaders of the bop (or bebop) movement in modern jazz . Gillespies playing was characterized by intelligent musicianship and technical facility.
See his autobiography, To Be or Not to Bop (1979) biographies by M. James (1961), B. McRae (1988), and A. Shipton (1999).