I started my “Growing Up Jazz” series to share stories and honor some of the great masters of Jazz I had the good fortune to know while growing up. It was an unusual yet exciting childhood; climbing inside instrument cases to take naps during rehearsals, dancing around during my parents concerts, going on tour and playing “Go Fish” with legendary musicians on trains and planes throughout Europe.

I didn’t realize until I got to college how magnanimous some of the incredible performers I knew were. I can recall walking into a friends dorm room and they had a poster of Dizzy Gillespie on their wall and I was like “why do you have a poster of my Dad’s friend on your wall?!”… until I got to jazz history class and was like OMG I KNOW HIM.

The photo here, taken by Ching-Ming Cheung was a special moment captured between Dizzy and I. I have always loved to read and Dizzy enjoyed sharing MAD books with me because they were funny and we could both laugh about them. Sometimes I would read to him, sometimes he would read to me and sometimes I would try to act out the scenes from the stories which always made Dizzy laugh.

It was important for me to start my series with Dizzy, because I had such a special relationship with him and learned a special skill from him. Watch the video to find out more:

[Photo Credit: Ching-Ming Cheung]