In the public eye, there is just one Gillespie -- and that's Dizzy, master of the jazz trumpet and comic genius.
This week the trumpeter was sitting on the banks of the C & O Canal in Georgetown when a stranger approached and saw his camera case, which had the name Dizzy imprinted on it.
"Gillespie?" asked the stranger. Told it was, he said, "Thanks for making people to remember my name. My name's Charles Gillespie. And when I meet people I just tell them it's Gillespie, like Dizzy Gillespie, and they don't forget."
The trumpeter is in Washington this week for an engagement at Blues Alley, and judging by the sellout audiences at the Georgetown jazz club, he is enjoying renewed popularity.
His memoirs, "To Be, or Not . . . to Bop," were published last month. He just returned from a triumphant European tour. And even though he's 61 (and will turn 62 Oct. 21), he's playing his horn as if he were 20 years younger, still spraying cascades of melodies in zigzag rhythms and hitting all the stratospheric notes he attempts.
He was sitting in his hotel room, looking over a 43-year-old arrangement he wrote for his composition "Night in Tunisia," now a jazz standard.
The Smithsonian has approached him about performing this and other material he and a handful of arrangers wrote for the Boyd Raeburn Orchestra in the 1940s.
"Look at this second trombone part," he said, pointing to the top line. "I copied that. Yeah. Unh-hunh. You can see the notes are made the same as those on the bottom of the second trumpet part. Yeah, that's my writing."
The arrangement was written in the first glory years of Gillespie's career, the time when he, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach and Bud Powell turned the jazz world on its ear by creating modern jazz, a new way of throwing wild musical colors on the canvas.
"We didn't think we were doing anything that was radically different," he said, reflecting on what some called a musical revolution. "We just wanted to be a little different from the older guys.
"You know if a guy throws a good fast ball or slider, and someone comes along and puts a new twist on the same pitch, you get a new pitch that wiggles when it slides. That's all we were doing."
Gillespie is wearing only a burgundy velvet bathrobe. His horn case is open, and occasionally he fiddles with the trumpet, posing for a photographer.
That trumpeter pulls out his camera, an expensive Contax 35mm with a winder. "I've got three 35mm cameras and one Rolliflex," he said. "I bought my first camera when I first went to Europe in 1937. It was a Zeiss.
"I've got a Leica, too. Paid $200 for it. I bought it from a guy for $200. But I felt so bad afterward that I have him another yard ( $100). He said Jesus must've sent me. I told him, 'Yeah, I spoke to him.'"
Gillespie shoots mostly nature scenes and musicians in black and white ("I like the depth of black white, the grays, and I like real dark shots"). Sometimes, he says, he waits and takes in 25 or 30 rolls of film at once to be processed.
Two years ago, Gillespie was in the contingent of jazz musicians that went to Cuba. His band was the first jazz group to go on State Department-sponsored tour (in 1956, he traveled to the Middle East and Asia). He performs in Europe and South American regularly.
Now he'd like to go where no jazzman has been in more than 30 years -- China. "I've spoken to some people in the Chinese delegation at the U.N. about the idea," he explained. "Not many people connect jazz and China. But the Chinese like our music. Teddy Weatherford, a piano player, died in China sometime in the 1930s. Our music gets around."
And Gillespie wants to take it further. He's commissioned several composers, including J. J. Johnson, Quincy Jones, Thad Jones, Benny Carter, Lalo Schifrin and Michel Legrand, to orchestrate some of his compositions ("Night in Tunisia," "Kush," "Con Alma") for symphony orchestras.
"I'm not doing this for any specific symphony," he said. "You know I've done a lot of work with symphony orchestras, the National Symphony for one. But every time we just work from a skeletal arrangement. I want to have dynamite material, something for the whole symphony.
"We've had some inquiries. There're some symphonies interested.Hell man, they need us (jazz musicians). Most of them are in the red and they can use some extra cash. I'll help them if they help us."