Jazz Recommendation: Lee Morgan's "Night in Tunisia"

March 8, 2018

"Night in Tunisia" was composed by modern jazz pioneer Dizzy Gillespie in the early 1940s. The most well-known version of this tune in the jazz world is the recording by saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Miles Davis, which contains a magnificent solo break and improvisation by Charlie Parker. But for this jazz recommendation, we will go a little off the beaten path and recommend a not-so-well-known version of "Night in Tunisia" by trumpeter Lee Morgan and baritone saxophonist Pepper Addams. Lee Morgan's version was recorded in the 1950s and was accurately described by AllMusic as being "fiery", "energetic", "passionate", and "rousing". 


Lee Morgan's version of "Night in Tunisia" has a stronger Tunisian influence than the Parker-Miles recording. The trumpet and baritone make an interesting combination, with Lee Morgan playing the A section melody and Pepper Addams playing on the bridge.


Pepper Addams, when playing the melody on the bridge, manages to make the baritone saxophone sound more beautiful than it usually does. This strengthens the melody and sharpens the contrast between Pepper Addams' emotionally-backed playing and Lee Morgan's "fiery", Spanish-influenced trumpet style.


Once they reach the solos, Morgan's great technique becomes obvious and he gets around the trumpet with ease. He manages to get the Tunisian mood into his trumpet phrasing while keeping Clifford Brown's warm trumpet sound.


Pepper Addams begins his baritone solo with a great show of technique and little emotional fire. It is a little past the four-minute mark that he puts more meaning into his saxophone, and the piano follows him with good, rhythmic backing. However, his phrases at times do not seem to go well with the Latin jazz rhythm.


Bobby Timmons plays a solo that sounds more like bebop than Bobby Timmons' usual piano solos on jazz tunes. Personally, I would have thought that the pianist on "Night in Tunisia" was Barry Harris without researching and discovering information to the contrary. On the bass is Paul Chambers and on the drums is Philly "Joe" Jones.



"Night in Tunisia" by Lee Morgan - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOIgcC0lPkU

"Night in Tunisia" by Charlie Parker - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxH83kmjpyw




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