'Round About Midnight

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'Round About Midnight
Studio album by Miles Davis
Released March 18, 1957
Recorded October 26, 1955; June 5 and September 10, 1956
30th Street Studios
(New York, New York)
Genre Hard bop[1]
Length 38:47
Label Columbia
CL-949
Producer George Avakian
Miles Davis chronology
Workin' with The Miles Davis Quintet
(1957)
'Round About Midnight
(1957)
Miles Ahead
(1957)

'Round About Midnight is an album by jazz musician Miles Davis. It was his debut on Columbia Records, and was originally released in March 1957 (CL 949). The album took its name from the Thelonious Monk song "'Round Midnight". Recording sessions took place at Columbia Studio D on October 26, 1955, and at Columbia's 30th Street Studio on June 5 and September 10, 1956.

Although it had a lukewarm reception upon its release, 'Round About Midnight has since been regarded by critics as a masterpiece of the hard bop genre and one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.[1] On April 17, 2001, Sony reissued the album for compact disc on its Columbia/Legacy label, which featured 24-bit remastering and included bonus tracks and master takes from the initial sessions. A further two-disc reissue on June 14, 2005, was released, as part of Sony's Legacy Edition series, which featured the 2001 reissue and a second disc containing Davis' celebrated Newport Jazz Festival of 1955 performance of "'Round Midnight", along with a recording of the quintet's set from the 1956 Pacific Jazz Festival.

Conception[edit]

At the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, Davis performed the song "'Round Midnight" as part of an all-star jam session, with the song's composer Thelonious Monk, along with Connie Kay and Percy Heath of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan. Davis's solo received an extremely positive reception from many jazz fans, and critics.[2] It was viewed as a significant comeback[2] and indication of a healthy, drug-free Miles (he had in fact been free from heroin addiction for well over a year).[3] Miles's response to this performance was typically laconic: "What are they talking about? I just played the way I always play."[4] George Avakian of Columbia Records was in the audience, and his brother Aram persuaded him that he ought to sign Davis to the label.[5] Davis was eventually signed to Columbia Records, and was able to form his famous "first great quintet" with John Coltrane on saxophone. 'Round About Midnight was to be his first album for his new label.

Davis was still under contract to Prestige Records, but had an agreement that he could record material for Columbia to release after the expiration of his Prestige contract. The recording dates for the album were at Columbia Records' studios; the first session was on October 26, 1955 at Studio D, during which the track "Ah-Leu-Cha" was recorded along with three other numbers which didn't make the album. This is the first studio recording of the quintet. The remainder of the album was recorded during sessions on June 5, 1956 ("Dear Old Stockholm", "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Tadd's Delight") and September 10, 1956 ("All of You" and the titular "'Round Midnight") at Columbia's 30th Street Studio. During the same period, the Miles Davis Quintet was also recording sessions to fulfill its contract with Prestige.

Reception and influence[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
All About Jazz (favorable) link
Allmusic 5/5 stars link
The Guardian 4/5 stars link
MusicHound 5/5 stars link
Penguin Guide to Jazz 3/4 stars link
PopMatters (favorable) link
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars link
Virgin Encyclopedia 4/5 stars link
Warr 5/5 stars link

On release, 'Round About Midnight received an average reception. Ralph Berton of The Record Changer described it as "orthodox, middle-of-the-road conservative progressive jazz." The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings states that the recording "sounds like a footnote" to the Prestige contractual obligation sessions (eventually released as the albums Miles, Relaxin', Workin', Steamin', and Cookin'), and that "the material is fine but somehow fails to cast quite the consistent spell which the Prestige recordings do."[6]

Throughout the years following its initial reception, 'Round About Midnight's standing among critics has improved significantly. Music writer Eugene Holley, Jr. later praised the album in a review, writing:

Stylistically, Midnight encompasses standards (or soon-to-be standards) such as "Dear Old Stockholm", "Bye-Bye Blackbird", Tadd Dameron's "Tadd's Delight", and Jackie McLean's forward-thinking composition "Little Melonae." Miles and company reprise "Budo" from the historic Birth of the Cool sessions. The standout track is Davis's Harmon-muted reading of Thelonious Monk's ballad, "'Round Midnight", which is still a Miles standard bearer... If you want to hear the origins of post-bop modern jazz, this is it.[7]

Bob Rusch of Cadence wrote, "everything about this date, from the black-and-white cover photo, washed in red, of Miles Davis, removed in thought behind dark glasses, to the performances, is classic. Not surprisingly, careful packaging and exquisite artistry have created a legend and, in this case, one of the essential recordings in the history of recorded music."[8]

Considered by most to be one of the pinnacles of the hard bop era, the song selection on Midnight represents a summation of the earlier bebop era, with the performances tempered by Davis' inherent lyricism but rooted in the new style as promoted by hard bop pioneers Art Blakey and Horace Silver with the Jazz Messengers, and the Max Roach/Clifford Brown quintet, in 1956 featuring ex-Davis foil Sonny Rollins. Coltrane had yet to become an iconic figure in jazz history, his presence in the Davis Quintet a let-down to many in lieu of the aforementioned Rollins. His style, while embryonically frenetic and searching, was not quite the sheets of sound approach celebrated later in the decade. In April 1957, Coltrane's heroin use would lead to his leaving Davis and working with Monk, and under Monk's tutelage the saxophonist's playing style solidified considerably.

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "'Round Midnight" (Monk, Williams) – 6:00
  2. "Ah-Leu-Cha" (Parker) – 5:55
  3. "All of You" (Porter) – 7:05

Side two[edit]

  1. "Bye Bye Blackbird" (Henderson) – 7:59
  2. "Tadd's Delight" (Dameron) – 4:33
  3. "Dear Old Stockholm" (Traditional, arranged by Getz) – 7:55

Legacy edition[edit]

Disc one

Bonus cuts from the 2001 reissue. All songs from October 1955 session, except where noted.

  1. "'Round Midnight" (Monk, Williams) – 6:00
  2. "Ah-Leu-Cha" (Parker) – 5:55
  3. "All of You" (Porter) – 7:05
  4. "Bye Bye Blackbird" (Henderson) – 7:59
  5. "Tadd's Delight" (Dameron) – 4:33
  6. "Dear Old Stockholm" (Traditional, arranged by Getz) – 7:55
  7. "Two Bass Hit" (Gillespie, Lewis) – 3:47
  8. "Little Melonae" (McLean) – 7:24
  9. "Budo" (Miles Davis, Powell) – 4:17
  10. "Sweet Sue, Just You" (Harris, Young) – 3:39 (September 1956 session)
Disc two

All tracks from the Pacific Jazz Festival of February, 1956 except where noted

  1. "'Round Midnight" – 6:00 (live from the Newport Jazz Festival 1955)
  2. Introduction by Gene Norman – 1:35
  3. "Chance It (Max Making Wax)" (Pettiford) – 4:33
  4. "Walkin'" (Carpenter) – 10:02
  5. Dialogue by Gene Norman and Miles Davis – 0:27
  6. "It Never Entered My Mind" (Rodgers, Hart) – 5:17
  7. "Woody 'n' You" (Gillespie) – 5:45
  8. "Salt Peanuts" (Gillespie, Clarke) – 4:33
  9. "Closing Theme" (Davis) – 0:27

Personnel[edit]

Musicians[edit]

Newport Jazz All-Star Personnel

Production[edit]

  • George Avakian – Producer, Liner Notes
  • Frank Laico – Engineer
  • Teo Macero – Mastering
  • Don Hunstein – Photography
  • Aram Avakian – Photography
  • Dennis Stock – Photography
  • Seth Rothstein – Reissue Project Director
  • Michael Cuscuna – Reissue Producer
  • Bob Belden – Reissue Producer
  • Randall Martin – Reissue Design
  • Ray Moore – Reissue Engineer
  • Mark Wilder – Reissue Engineering and Mastering
  • Howard Fritzson – Reissue Art Director
  • Bob Blumenthal Reissue Liner Notes

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Buskin, Richard (April 2010). "Miles Davis 'Round Midnight'". Sound on Sound (Cambridge). Archived from the original on March 8, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Chambers, Jack (1998). Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis. Da Capo Press. pp. 205–206. ISBN 0-306-80849-8. 
  3. ^ Davis, Miles (1989). Miles: The Autobiography. Simon & Schuster. pp. 167–170. ISBN 0-671-72582-3. 
  4. ^ Morgenstern, Dan (2004). Living with Jazz. Random House. ISBN 0-375-42072-X. 
  5. ^ Carr, Ian (1999). Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 88. ISBN 1-56025-241-3. 
  6. ^ Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) [1992]. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 321. ISBN 0-14-102327-9. 
  7. ^ Amazon.com: Editorial Reviews – 'Round About Midnight
  8. ^ Rusch, Bob (1994). Ron Wynn, ed. All Music Guide to Jazz. M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov. San Francisco: Miller Freeman. p. 194. ISBN 0-87930-308-5 

References[edit]