A Long Night In Tunisia – And Many Bad Puns That Resulted

A blogger I follow (Herb) posted awhile back about a desire to visit Tunisia. (Which can be found here). I have never shared Herb’s desire to travel there, although will admit that I think the place has a cool name. His post did, however, trigger for me a musical association. And, because that is never enough, the name of that place served as a fountain for some fairly bad (meaning fabulous) puns. Hmmm, which shall we deal with first?

When I think about Tunisia, my mind goes to the early postwar jazz standard “A Night In Tunisia”. Early bebop trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie wrote it, and there are a couple of classic versions that were recorded in early 1946. The first, put down on February 22, was this one by Dizzy Gillespie’s own band on RCA Victor, which included such luminaries as Don Byas (tenor sax), Milt Jackson (vibes) and Ray Brown (bass).

A second was recorded just a month later by Gillespie’s often-partner in crime, Charlie Parker on his alto saxophone. The Parker version, recorded March 28th of 1946 on the Dial label, featured an equally talented crew that included a young Miles Davis (trumpet) and the under-appreciated Dodo Marmarosa (piano). I love both of these versions, as they convey the allure of an exotic place – perhaps a smoky, humid night-spot halfway around the world.

Tangent alert: “A Night In Tunisia” was actually an adaptation of an earlier piece penned by Gillespie. In 1944, Sarah Vaughan sang in front of Gillespie’s band when they recorded a slower version which was first called “Interlude”. Stories about jazz recordings from that era can be murky, so how “Interlude” became “A Night In Tunisia” is a bit of a mystery. End tangent alert. (Or was it an Interlude?)

* * *

Anyway, when Herb wrote about Tunisia, my first thought was of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, and how I once spent a night with them there. Quite a few nights, actually. It was then that I started riffing on the places that Tunisia could take me. For example, Tunisia is where to go when a single nisia is not enough but threenisia would be overkill. Then came so many more.

Tunisia is where you go to forget about music

Or where you go to forget about tuna after a long lent.

If Tunisia is too small for you, there is always Magnesia.

Or if Tunisia is too big for you, try Micronesia.

If you don’t have time to visit all of them, perhaps it is best to go to Polynesia.

Oh, you think I’m finished? Not by a long shot. Try these:

Amnesia – a forgettable place

Am Not Nesia – a forgettable place with an inferiority complex

C’mere I Nesia – where you go when you need a hand with something.

Fromnisia – the way back after you left Tunisia

Toenisia – where you go to forget about your feet

Tonesia – it is also where you go to forget about your weight. Or where you go to forget about your pale complexion when all your friends have great tans

Trunesia – where everybody lies about everything because truth has been forgotten.

After all of this, I actually kind of do want to visit Tunisia. I wonder if spending a night there will make me Dizzy? Or perhaps I already am.

Further Reading:

We have previously profiled Sarah Vaughan (here)

Along with both Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker both separately (here) and (here), as well as together (here).

14 thoughts on “A Long Night In Tunisia – And Many Bad Puns That Resulted

  1. Even when I was but a wee lad first listening to jazz in live venues, I became aware that almost every jazz group from trios to octets had a version of Night in Tunisia, and they all felt exotic. Your entry led me to do a quick check on how many artists of any ilk spent time in Tunisia and it was pretty impressive, add Tangiers, and there’s even more! The North Mediterranean Coast of Africa has always been a draw for the artists in European and American society…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that the song always had a mysterious, exotic air to it. I also read that Tunisia was a place where many black soldiers found themselves during the war and that many of them found it attractive and hospitable, making it a place with good memories for many of those vets.


  2. Thank you for the shout-out, I really appreciate it and I always appreciate the lessons on music and things related that I find here (you haven’t reviewed any snacks in quite a while). I was going to wax philosophical on your great post here. I came close but forgot what I was going to say. Sort of I think therefore I amnesia.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is truly dreadful, I’m going to hopefully wake up with Tunisia amnesia tomorrow when it comes to these puns!

    My parents visited Tunisia early in their retirement years, they were probably in their early 60s. The only thing I remember was that they rode a camel and my mother said the tour guides were very pretty girls who wore tight pants. (I was a single guy in my 20’s, so I’d remember a detail like that)

    I don’t know if Tunisia is as safe or dynamic as it was 25 years ago, and I don’t know of that culture’s tolerance for bad puns.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well JP, I have never heard of “A Night In Tunisia” but, given my lack of knowledge about jazz, that probably should not shock you. In the second video, I was listening to the music, but also remembering what an “old time” record sounds like with a speck of dust under the stylus and watching it going ’round and ’round mesmerizing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s