The tenor by Sonny Rollins and the theme by Gillespie followed my every step for as
many days as I let my gaze perambulate and my lense welcome her contemporary
North African images. The once upon a time phoenician colony of Queen Dido, the
realm of Flaubert’s Salambo, Hannibal’s Carthage. The place that never stopped
changing hands, passing from its Roman conqueror Scipio the African to the
Byzantines, the Sarakeens, the Arabs, the Ottomans, the French, until it found its
«independance» with Bourgiba and a «light», westward looking «maghrebian»
happiness with Ben Ali, her present, immovable for 20 years, president.
How «Jazz» can these photographs of Tunisia be, when not even one of them is
taken at nightime? Well, it is as much North African as the piece by Gillespie, written
sometime around 1940, far away, on the other side of the Atlantic, as imperceptibly
suggestive as the perfume of Tunis intertwined with the «blue» notes swirling in
my ears. So faithful in a tactile and visible reality, and so misleading because of the
shallowness of the short visit. As objective as exactly the rectangle they describe,
and as subjective as the personal baggage of the photographer who records.
Somewhere between the composition and the experimentation, somewhere
between the light and the blue, somewhere between Tunisia and the Greek
photographer, Sonny Rollins blows Gillespie’s «Tunisian Nights».