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For the Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers albums, see A Night in Tunisia (1957 album) and A Night in Tunisia (1960 album).

"Night in Tunisia" is a musical composition written by Dizzy Gillespie in 1942 while he was playing with the Earl Hines Band. It has become a jazz standard.

It is also known as "Interlude",[1] under which title it was recorded (with lyrics) by Sarah Vaughan. Gillespie himself called the tune "Night in Tunisia". Although the song is sometimes titled “A Night in Tunisia”, the proper title is “Night in Tunisia.” The song appears as the title track of 30 CDs and is included in over 500 currently available CDs. In January 2004, The Recording Academy added the Dizzy Gillespie & His Sextet’s 1946 Victor recording of “Night in Tunisia” to its Grammy Hall of Fame.

"Night in Tunisia" was one of the signature pieces of Gillespie's bebop big band, and he also played it with his small groups.


The complex bass line in the "A section" is notable for avoiding the standard walking bass pattern of straight quarter notes, and the use of oscillating half-step-up/half-step-down chord changes gives the song a unique, mysterious feeling. Like many of Gillespie's tunes, it features a short written introduction and a brief interlude that occurs between solo sections — in this case, a twelve-bar sequence leading into a four-bar break for the next soloist.

Cover versions and adaptations

One of its most famous performances is Charlie Parker's recording for Dial. (Dial even released a fragmentary take of it simply titled "The Famous Alto Break".) The song also became closely identified with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, who often gave showstopping performances of it with extra percussion from the entire horn section. On the album A Night at Birdland Vol. 1, Blakey introduces the piece with the (probably apocryphal) story of how he was present when Dizzy composed it "on the bottom of a garbage can." The liner notes say, "The Texas department of sanitation can take a low bow."

It has been covered in various styles by various artists, including:

Chaka Khan included a version of the tune (with a guest appearance by Gillespie himself as well as an electronically altered sample of Parker's "The Famous Alto Break") on What Cha' Gonna Do for Me.

The song was a part of the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps' show in 1997.


  1. ^ "Night in Tunisia" at Accessed 10 January 2008.


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