NEW YORK — In a celebration of bebop's father-genius, the fans of Dizzy Gillespie filled the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine to the rafters Tuesday with jazz and tribute.
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis opened the leading a New Orleans-style procession of honorary pallbearers composed of dozens of Gillespie's musician friends.
The service featured performances by Gillespie's contemporaries and proteges including bassist Milt Hinton, trumpeter Clark Terry, bass player Ray Brown, fluegelhorn player Chuck Mangione and alto saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera. They played his famous compositions "A Night in Tunisia" and "I Waited for You," among other pieces.
The crowd of thousands was roused by "Blue and Boogie," a bebop piece composed by Gillespie and his friend and collaborator, the late saxophonist Charlie Parker. Singer Roberta Flack sang a moving a cappella rendition of "Amazing Grace."
Mangione said, "Dizzy had an appetite for life and for people and I thank him for making the whole world feel so good."
A private funeral service for John Birks (Dizzy) Gillespie, who died last week of pancreatic cancer at age 75, was held Saturday at St. Peter's Lutheran Church. He was buried at a cemetery in Flushing, Queens, near the resting place of another legendary jazz trumpeter, Louis Armstrong.
The Tuesday service was a public tribute to the nearly universal appeal of the frog-cheeked trumpet virtuoso whose creation of bebop and Afro-Cuban jazz assure his place in music history.
Mayor David N. Dinkins hailed Gillespie as an example of "the best of what this town is all about."
"He led the way for generations of musicians who came to this city," Dinkins said. "Not only was he the founding father of bebop . . . but he blended music of Africa, South America and the Caribbean into a big band sound."