Winter Sun! Five nights in Tunisia!

LJC-Dizzzy-Tunisia-2Here’s the idea, hope you like it. Often, posts have been about this record or that artist or that label. But if we dice and slice things differently, hold the tune fixed, vary the players, instruments and timeframe, crystallise the different approach of different artists, and different fluency in the performance, may be we learn something different and extra along the way.

So LJC offers you some seasonal Winter Sun to welcome in 2015.  Five Nights in Tunisiaall sourced from “original” vinyl (or the closest I have) of course.


I have chosen the great bop standard and soloist showcase A Night in Tunisia, credited to Dizzy Gillespie and his ’40s pianist Frank Paparelli, part of the standard repertoire of many of the greats.

Why Tunisia?

The power of this composition is the way it builds tension through circling melodic and harmonic repetition, to the point where it  demands release – provided by the cadenza, which propels the soloist flying into the sky on wings.  The chorus then  introduces a platform for an extended express-train ride solo hugging the chord changes, until a reprise of the melody signals the hand-over to the next soloist. Perfect. Sheer genius.

The players are the giants Parker, Powell, Miles, Blakey, and their successors, a chance to let rip for some of my favourite second generation front line, Mclean, Griffin, Bill Hardman, Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons to name but a few. The cross-section provides opportunities for voice-based trumpet, and breath-based saxophone, and muscular driven piano, all the voices pre-eminent in modern jazz. (I have trimmed the samples of a bit of Blakey drum-solos, a personal choice, without exemplar in the earlier selections.)

What this cross-section of Nights in Tunisia should reveal is how the Parker legacy evolved through younger players in the decades that followed. Lofty goal, eh, LJC? Lets try it and see.

Some of the samples are quite short, others quite long, you can listen however you wish according to attention-span. Those addicted to pressing buttons, I recommend to keep hands in pockets for the duration.

Your Five Nights in Tunisia Excursion Itinerary

On arrival: Welcome drink and nibbles, meet and greet your LJC jazz chalet representative, collect your welcome pack,  ask any questions, before heading off for the evening concerts.

Dizz-n-Bird-cover-1800-LJCNight 1: Charlie Parker (1947)

Charlie Parker (alto sax) Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet) John Lewis (piano) Al McKibbon (bass) Joe Harris (drums) recorded live at Carnegie Hall, New York September 27,1947.

Better than the famed 1953 alto break (in my opinion) Released as  Diz ‘n’ Bird, (Roost Records) taken from Vogue UK LAC12252, as vintage mid-’50s vinyl as I can get.  The master shows how to fly, no seat reservation required. Winter Sun!


The-Amazing-Bud-Powell-vol1-cover-1800-LJCNight 2: Bud Powell (1951)

Bud Powell (p) Curley Russell (b) Max Roach (d) recorded May 1, 1951  remastered by RVG. Taken from  Blue Note BLP 1503 (Lexington labels) The Amazing Bud Powell Vol 1.  tk Alternate Master.

This selection  puts to the test the maxim that Powell “translated the vocabulary of Parker to the piano”. The official take of Tunisia  was a repeat, to avoid the alternate fluffed ending, but is the lesser of the two takes included on the Blue Note release, in my opinion.  When you repeat, sometimes you lose the freshness and spontaneity, even though making good the  “mistake”. The Powell recording  benefits from Max Roach’s authority over the beat in a more exposed trio setting. Winter Sun!


Musings-of-Miles-coverNight 3: Miles Davis (1955)

Miles Davis (trumpet) Red Garland (piano) Oscar Pettiford (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, June 7, 1955

Miles, as always his own man, I’m going to play it my way, cool and swinging, a far cry from the original, stamped with his own chosen voicings. This quartet leverages Red Garland’s staccato block-chord style perfectly, a rhythmic/ stride piano underpinning worthy of Lee Morgan’s Sidewinder riff, I can nearly see shift dresses and beehive hairdos.  Pettiford manages the heavy lifting while Philly Joe enforces the beat on the cymbals rather than the skins, so unlike Blakey thunder. Wonderful. Winter Sun!

Taken from Prestige LP 7007 The Musings of Miles  (Prestige Fireworks/Bergenfield 2nd issue)


Art-Blakey-A-Night-in-Tunisia-RCA-cover-1800-LJCNight 4:  Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1957)

Art Blakey (drums) Sam Dockery (piano) Jimmy de Brest (bass) Bill Hardman (trumpet) Johnny Griffin (tenor sax) Jackie Mclean (alto sax) recorded for RCA in Studio No. 3, New York City, on April 2 and 8, 1957 . Release originally Vik LX 1115; taken from RD 7555 A Night In Tunisia RCA Victor (Decca test pressing)

Order of solos Jackie McLean, Bill Hardman, Johnny Griffin, Sam Dockery, Art Blakey… The joys of this version (trimmed of Blakey’s long front end drum solo for sake of brevity)  include the young McLean playing his heart out, fighting to establish his own voice on alto while the Parker legacy is still running in his head; Bill Hardman’s reminder that it is possible to squeeze more notes out of three valves and your embouchure than over twenty keys on a saxophone;  and the frightening velocity of Johnny Griffin, twisting and turning  at a breakneck speed to demonstrate he is the fastest tenor in the West.  I’ve let Blakey have his solo this time. Winter Sun!


Art-Blakey-A-Night-in-Tunisia-Blue-Note--cover-1800-LJCNight 5: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1960)

Lee Morgan (trumpet) Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone) Bobby Timmons (piano) Jymie Merritt (bass) Art Blakey (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 14, 1960. Taken from Blue Note BLP 4049 A Night in Tunisia (47W63rd label)

Lee Morgan seizes the opportunity to dazzle, though I sense Wayne Shorter feels a little uncomfortable, his trademark gruff slightly sour tone somehow out of tune with the flying dervish spirit of the song, though he puts in a commendable effort “out of role”. Morgan however is the star performance..Winter Sun!


Time to head for home

All too quickly, as in real life,  your musical short Winter Sun break comes to an end. It is time to pack your suitcases and head for home. Hopefully you found some interesting things during your stay in Tunisia, I know I did. You should now be all set for the new year, 2015. The days are getting longer, Summer is on its way.

Professor Jazz

Professor Jazz

Happy New Year to all, especially to comment posters, you know who you are, but WordPress tell me in their year-end round-up for Blog owners, the top five this year are Eduard Linshalm, DG Mono, dottorjazz, Rudolf  and alunsevern.

Thanks guys, and all the others posters too numerous to mention.  Comments are a considerable encouragement,  in this effort to create a “jazz on vinyl community” where folk will feel comfortable dropping by, catching up, getting new ideas, answering questions, sharing some opinions and knowledge with those like-minded, be it on the music, the vinyl, the hi-fi, whatever floats your boat.

We don’t exist in the mainstream media,  there is no commercial motive here, so we make our own space. Here’s to the future: it is imminent, due any time soon, but in the meanwhile, here’s to The Present. It’s all we have.




21 thoughts on “Winter Sun! Five nights in Tunisia!

  1. I hate to be a pendant, but are there two famous alto breaks for NiT? I’m presuming you mean the alto break played by Parker at Massey Hall?
    But when I hear the phrase ‘famous alto break’ I always think of the 1946 version on Dial.
    Anyroad up I am always mesmerised by Parker’s live solos – and I have never heard this one before. They always seems seem to be the very edges of creativity, and because of his reed choice, there’s always a danger he’ll blow a duff note. He sounds like a runaway train – magical stuff.


    • You may well be right, I picked up a Parker anthology that described the 53 alto break as such. No doubt they were all fabulous, no matter. The Massey Hall one I do have and the quality of the recording is excellent (deliberately recorded for business reasons through the pa by Mingus as I understand it) but when I went head to head I thought the Carnegie Hall one was a better solo, but who really knows.


  2. An autonomous, non-commercial space… LJC reveals his inner anarchist for 2015!

    Joking aside, we value this blog precisely for the selfless effort that goes in to it and the fact that its community of users and contributors is more than a collection of eyeballs for advertising ‘content’.

    That out of the way, I derived great pleasure over the Xmas listening period from Howard Riley Trio: THE DAY WILL COME (Hux), Evan Parker/Bley/Phillips: SANKT GEROLD VARIATIONS (ECM), Parker/Guy/Lytton & Marilyn Crispell : NATIVES AND ALIENS (Leo), Cannonball Adderley: SOMETHING ELSE (Music Matters 33.3), Mulligan Meets Ben Webster, and more.

    I must say, I think the Music Matters 33.3 LPs are a marvellous treat at around thirty quid — now that’s my kind of house limit on a single record!

    I think the great thing here over the past years or two has been the gradual widening of investigation beyond Blue Note and the US jazz tradition to Europe, the avant-garde and beyond.

    Long may it continue.

    A Happy New Year to all, and to may a couple of auctions come up trumps for LJC at absurdly low prices.


      • No, I’ve never compared — and I think the only two Classic Records pressings I have are 2001’s KIND OF BLUE and SKETCHES OF SPAIN. Both are superb, the best versions I’ve heard (admittedly all reissues of various vintage rather than early or original pressings). SKETCHES in particular has tremendous presence and listened to with headphones reveals extraordinary detail.

        Similarly the handful of Music Matters 33s I have (Page One; Idle Moments; Cool Strutting; and Something Else) all sound wonderful to me — but again, they are a huge improvement on the indifferent reissues I had rather than when compared against originals.

        The overall quality of the MM 33s is excellent, of course — from pressing to vinyl to artwork to cover construction.


  3. Bobby Timmons’ cheap licks are disturbing on what otherwise would have been a stellar version (# 5 – BLP 4049), notably thanks to Wayne (and Lee of course).


  4. Today I played the 5 NiT selections again.They are all beauty’s(great Miles interpretation.)Best wishes for 2015 to you Andrew and all the readers.


  5. Happy New Year LJC!!
    Yusef Lateef ‘s Night in Tunesia (on the unaffordable Prayer to the East platter; cool sleeve too) is very nice imo.
    Keep on posting and blogging in 2015!


  6. happy new year! all the best as we cruise into 2015. i’m looking forward to your new additons in the new year.

    the trip through tunisia was also nice. 🙂


  7. I spent 5475 nights in Tunisia. But during those fifteen years I met only one local who was aware of the existence of ” A Night in Tunisia”. This particular man, with an extremely open and inquisitive mind, became a dear friend of mine. But it also proves that jazz is not as universal as we tend to believe.
    With this thought in mind, I wish all friends, and particularly Andrew, a very happy and successful New Year.


  8. Quite a shock to learn exactly how garrulous I must have seemed over the past twelve months… Thanks for the marvellous job you’re doing, LJC, and best wishes for the year ahead.


  9. I always enjoy on the beginning of Side 2 of Blue Note 1521 when Blakey introduces this tune by saying he feels close to it because he was with Dizzy when Dizzy composed it “in Texas, on the bottom of a garbage can . . . seriously.” Great stuff.


  10. Happy New Year to you also Mr. LJC and to all the readers and posters.
    Have truly enjoyed your journeys into music and look forward to more.
    Peace and blessings.


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