Davis signed with Columbia and formed his "first great quintet" with John Coltrane on saxophone. 'Round About Midnight was his first album for the label. He was still under contract to Prestige, but he had an agreement that he could record material for Columbia to release after the expiration of his Prestige contract. Recording took place at Columbia studios; the first session was on October 26, 1955 at Studio D, during which the track "Ah-Leu-Cha" was recorded with three numbers that did not appear on 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.
On April 17, 2001, Sony reissued the album on compact disc for its Columbia/Legacy label with 24-bit audio remastering and four previously released bonus tracks from the initial sessions. "Budo" had been released as part of the 1957 anthology album on Columbia, Jazz Omnibus, and "Sweet Sue, Just You" had appeared on the 1956 album by Leonard Bernstein explaining jazz to the classical audience, What Is Jazz. A two-disc reissue of June 14, 2005, included the 2001 reissue with a second disc containing Davis' 1955 Newport Jazz Festival performance of "'Round Midnight", along with a recording of the quintet's set from the 1956 Pacific Jazz Festival. The Newport track had been released for the first time the previous year on the Legacy compilation Happy Birthday Newport: 50 Swinging Years!
In his five-star review in the May 16, 1957 issue of Down Beat magazine, Ralph J. Gleason called the album "modern jazz conceived and executed in the very best style." Ralph Berton of The Record Changer called the album "orthodox, middle-of-the-road conservative progressive jazz." The Penguin Guide to Jazz said it "sounds like a footnote" to the Prestige contractual obligation sessions (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."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."