The young Gillespie soon got bored with his jobs in the big-bands. The music was popular with audiences, but didn’t stretch him, or provide an outlet for his new ideas. In the early 1940s in New York, he began to meet other jazz musicians of his own age who felt the same way he did – including the saxophonist Charlie Parker, the guitarist Charlie Christian, pianist Thelonious Monk and drummer Kenny Clarke. They started to meet late at night, after their regular gigs were over, in a Harlem nightclub called Minton’s. There, they developed a new way of playing – and because it was fast, tended to use a lot of notes, jerky lines and strange melodies by the standards of the popular music of the day, they called it rebop, or bebop.
Gillespie always attracted attention, both for his playing and for his appearance. In a technique classical teachers would have frowned on, he blew out his cheeks like balloons, his neck-muscles were like biceps, and he played a strange trumpet of his own design, after someone sat on his original trumpet