The great and incomparable French guitarist, composer, and arranger Roland Dyens would have turned 63 on October 19 had he not died of cancer on October 29, 2016. The guitar world continues to mourn the passing of this incredibly gifted musician and wonderful human being. We salute him today with a video of the guitarist performing his typically inventive, playful, and virtuosic arrangement of the jazz standard A Night in Tunisia, written and originally popularized by another idiosyncratic genius, American trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (1917–1993), who wrote it in the early 1940s when he was a member of Benny Carter’s band. As you may know, Dyens was born in what was, in 1955, still the French colony of Tunisia in North Africa. (Gillespie’s original title for the tune was actually Interlude, but “some genius decided to call it Night in Tunisia,” he said. Either way, it’s a cool number.)
Guitarists will be playing Dyens’ arrangements (and original compositions) forever!
Pardon the slightly compressed video image; it shouldn’t distract from the brilliance of Dyens’ performance.
Also, we’ve included a version below of Dizzy Gillespie playing the piece in the early 1970s. Gillespie’s birthday is October 21; he’d be 101. So, a toast to him, too! —Blair Jackson