Dizzy Gillespie wrote “Night in Tunisia” in 1942, with lyrics by Jon Hendricks. The composition is often credited to Gillespie and Frank Paparelli, although Gillespie has said that Paparelli only transcribed the piece for publication.

Tune in today as we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with some of this composition’s most notable covers!

“Night in Tunisia” was first recorded in 1944, soon after Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstein left the Earl Hines band to form their own. They went on to become the first “bebop big band,” lead by Eckstein. Parker and Gillespie accompanied Vaughan in the first recording on December 31 of that year, under the title “Interlude.”

In his memoir, Gillespie says he came up with the melody when he was sitting on his piano playing chord progressions. He noticed the chords formed an exotic melody and decided to add a bebop rhythm, ending up with “Night in Tunisia.”

Forty years after writing the original lyrics, Hendricks revisited the tune, recording a vocalese version titled “Another Night in Tunisia.” It was part of the band The Manhattan Transfer’s 1985 album Vocalese, which received 12 Grammy nominations. “Another Nigh in Tunisia” won the Grammy for Best Vocal Arrangements for Voices.

Gillespie recorded many versions of the song over the years, with bands big and small. In 2004, his 1946 recording of “Night in Tunisia” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Charlie Parker’s recording with Miles Davis in 1946 is one of the most popular interpretations of the tune. Another legendary version was recorded by the Bud Powell trio, with Max Roach on drums. It has been recorded and performed by Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers’, Count Bassie, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Cal Tjader and many others.

The tune is often—incorrectly—referred to as “A Night in Tunisia.”

There are more than 900 renditions of “Night in Tunisia”/”A Night in Tunisia” as well as five versions of the tune re-titled “Another Night in Tunisia.” Tune in today as we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with some of this composition’s most notable covers!

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