As a performer and mentor, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie” was one of the most influential jazz trumpeters and bandleaders of the 20th century. He was instrumental in the founding of the be-bop style and Afro-Cuban jazz. 

“I believe that there is one God and He manifests Himself to mankind through great teachers for specific periods of time in our spiritual development, that He sends them periodically. It’s like a relay runner who has a baton in his hand. You could look at the Word of God like a baton, the Holy Spirit. The runner grabs the baton and he runs and runs and runs; and while he runs that is the revelation of what’s happening. When he gets to the end, he passes it on to the next guy, and he starts running with it, and that’s the next religion. It’s the same religion; it’s just that a different prophet’s running with it. He passes it to the next and the next and so on until there is peace and unity of mankind on earth as it is in Heaven.”

“Becoming a Bahá’í changed my life in every way and gave me a new concept of the relationship between God and man – between man and his fellow man – man and his family. It’s just all consuming. I became more spiritually aware, and when you’re spiritually aware, that will be reflected in what you do. They teach you in the Bahá’í faith, without the idea of stopping you from doing things, to fill your life with doing something that’s for real, and those other things you do, that are not for real, will fall off by themselves. I never needed to say, ‘I’m gonna stop doing this.’ I just found out that there was no time for it anymore. I started praying and reading a lot too. The (Bahá’í) writings gave me new insight on what the plan is – God’s plan – for this time, the truth of the oneness of God, the truth of the oneness of the prophets, the truth of the oneness of mankind. That’s it; that’s what I learned.”

“In the Bahá’í religion we don’t believe in cutting loose anything good. Cut loose your heritage? Bahá’ís believe that you bring it in and work with others. Bring it into the whole just like a master painting. Because I’m purple and there’s another cat who’s orange doesn’t mean that we can’t come into one big compatible complementary arrangement. Just contribute from your own uniqueness, but don’t get over in their groove. Stay outta theirs!”

From Dizzy – To Be Or Not To Bop, 1979

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