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Bebo ’n’ Dizzy

Paquito D’Rivera remembers the special relationship between two musicians

Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D'Rivera, Bebo Valdes, Stockholm, 1981

It was one of those sunny, windy Havana afternoons in April 1977. In Havana, April may be as hellish as August, or as stormy as October. But that particular day there was so much sun in Havana I thought it could crack the rocks. With my brains practically boiling, when I got home from the other side of town, holding on to the bronze doorknocker on our big whitewashed door, I saw the note. Written in pencil on a scrap of paper from a brown grocery bag or something, the brief message, in some kind of Spanglish, more or less said: Hola Paquito, vine lookin’ for you, pero no estabas. See ya soon! Dizzy Gillespie.

I thought it was a practical joke by some of my friends in Irakere, until a kid from the hood passing by told me that “a chubby black tourist dressed like Sherlock Holmes was looking for you.” A chubby what? I asked. “… And he blew his cheeks like a toad too!” he yelled while fading around the corner.

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