Dizzy's and Coltrane's Horns

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Dizzy-Gillespie-7Dizzy’s and Coltrane’s Horns

A friend of mine, music industry veteran Jeff Gold (www.recordmecca.com) recently showed me Guerney’s 2005 Jazz auction catalogue.

For sale in it were both Dizzy Gillespie’s famous upward-bell trumpet, and John Coltrane’s Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone.

Reading about the instruments of these two legendary jazz musicians, it was interesting to learn some things.

Why did Dizzy’s horn turn upward?

What happened to Trane’s horn?

In the case of Dizzy, he was playing a gig at a club in New York city, with two comedians opening for him.  According to the auction catalogue, ne of them knocked Diz’s trumpet off the piano and when it hit the ground the bell was bent upward.

I was the moderator of a jazz panel with Quincy Jones yesterday:

Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World

I asked him about this and Q said that, in fact, somebody sat on the horn and bent the bell upward.  I didn’t think that falling to the floor would give the force to bend it so badly. Quincy is a trumpet player, was very close to Dizzy all his life, and Dizzy actually willed him the famous Martin trumpet.  I’ll take his version of events.

Dizzy tried it to see if it still worked and found that he actually liked the sound of the now-deformed horn.  He asked Martin, the instrument manufacturer known more for its guitars (Miles also had a Martin trumpet) to make a new trumpet with the bell pointed upward.  He played it ever since that time.

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I also always wondered what happened to Coltrane’s tenor saxophone.  Thought maybe Pharoah Sanders got it, or maybe Wayne Shorter.  But no, it’s still in the Coltrane family.  In this 2005 auction,  the reserve was set so high that nobody bought it.