'Round Midnight (song)

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"'Round Midnight"
Song by Thelonious Monk
Published 1944
Genre Bebop
Composer(s) Thelonious Monk

"'Round Midnight" (sometimes "'Round About Midnight") is a 1944 jazz standard by pianist Thelonious Monk. A version recorded by Monk's quintet was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1993.[1] It is the most recorded jazz standard composed by a jazz musician.[2]

Composition and Monk's first recording[edit]

It is thought that Monk originally composed the song sometime in 1940 or 1941. However, Harry Colomby claims that Monk may have written an early version around 1936 (at the age of 19) with the title "Grand Finale". Monk first recorded the song on the 1947 Blue Note album Genius of Modern Music: Volume 1, and recorded it several times after that. His first version was transcribed by Lionel Grigson in A Thelonious Monk Study Album (Novello, 1993).[3]


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Later versions[edit]

Jazz artists Cootie Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Pepper, and Miles Davis have further embellished the song, with songwriter Bernie Hanighen adding lyrics. Both Williams and Hanighen have received co-credits for their contributions.

The song is also called "'Round About Midnight", as Miles Davis used this title for his Columbia Records album 'Round About Midnight (1957) that included a cover based on Dizzy Gillespie's interpretation. It became a signature song for Davis; his performance of it with Monk at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival may have gotten him a record deal at Columbia Records.[4] He recorded the song in the studio two other times, once for Prestige in 1953 and again in 1956 as released on Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants.

The version by Jimmy McGriff was used as the 6pm closedown theme in the early days of Radio Caroline in 1964.

In 1971, Ron Grainer used a down-tempo variation by Cootie Williams to accompany a memorable scene from The Omega Man. The song later appeared on a 2004 Gotan Project CD, Inspiración Espiración, featuring Chet Baker.

In 1986, the song was used as the title for the film Round Midnight which starred veteran saxophonist Dexter Gordon in a fictional story about an expatriate American jazz musician living in Paris. The soundtrack by Herbie Hancock prominently features the song 'Round Midnight along with a number of other jazz standards and a handful of original pieces written by Hancock.

In 2002, Italian pianist Emanuele Arciuli commissioned a number of composers to create the Round Midnight Variations.[5] The composers included Roberto Andreoni, Milton Babbitt, Alberto Barbero, Carlo Boccadoro, William Bolcom, David Crumb, George Crumb, Michael Daugherty, Filippo Del Corno, John Harbison, Joel Hoffman, Aaron Jay Kernis, Gerald Levinson, Tobias Picker, Matthew Quayle, Frederic Rzewski, Augusta Read Thomas and Michael Torke.[6]

Notable recordings[edit]

by Monk[edit]

Recording Date Appears on Duration Release Date Solo Live Note Reference
1947/11/21 Genius of Modern Music 3:10 1951 the same version was already released in 1947 as a b-side of the "Well You Needn't"-single; today the compilation Genius of Modern Music: Volume 1 is more established [7][8][9]
1954/06/07 The Prophet (EP) 5:13 1963 A A France only release [10][11]
1957/04/12 Thelonious Himself 6:44 1957 A The original CD reissue, released in 1987 via Original Jazz Classics/Riverside Records, includes an extensive 22-minute solo recording of "'Round Midnight" outtakes and experimentation in the studio. [12][13][14]
1957/08/13 Mulligan Meets Monk 8:29 1957 [15][16][17]
1958/07/09 Thelonious in Action 6:15 1989 A Bonus track on 1989-CD reissue. [18][19]
1960/04/29 Thelonious Monk at the Blackhawk 12:07 1960 A [20][21]
1961/04/15 The First European Concert '61 7:09 1991 A unofficial release [22][23]
1961/05/16 Thelonious Monk In Stockholm 6:52 1987 A unofficial release [24][25]
1963/02/09 Spastic And Personal A unofficial release [26][27]
1964/10/31 Live at the It Club 6:32 1982 A [28][29][30]
1964/11/03 Live at the Jazz Workshop 9:10 1982 A [31][32]
1966/03/27 Switzerland 1966 1991 A unofficial release [33][34]
1968/11/19 Monk's Blues 3:49 1990 with quartet & big band; originally released in 1968, but the track was first featured on the CD reissue in 1990 as a bonus track (recorded at the same session) [35][36]
1968 Straight No Chaser - Music From The Motion Picture (OST) 2:14 1989 A [37][38]
1970/10/04 Thelonious Monk In Tokyo A [35]
1971/11/14 The Giants of Jazz 8:17 1972 A as "The Giants of Jazz" with Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Al McKibbon, Sonny Stitt and Kai Winding; other recordings of the group have been made while touring Europe in 1971 and released as bootlegs [39][40][41]
1972/06/15 The Last Concerts 6:54 2009 A [42][43]
1972/09/16 Live At The 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival 5:15 2008/08/05 A as "Art Blakey and The Giants of Jazz" [44][45]
1975/07/03 The Last Concerts 7:40 2009 A [42][43]

by others[edit]

Recording Year Interpreter Appears on Release Year Note Reference
1944 Cootie Williams Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1941–1944 1995 First known recording of the song [46][47]
1946 Dizzy Gillespie Modern Jazz Trumpets Gillespie added an introduction and later that year a cadenza for big band arrangement, which "proved so popular that Monk added it (albeit an altered version) to his own performance... It is now a standard part of the song." [48][49]
1950 Charlie Parker One Night In Birdland 2000 [50][51]
1953 Miles Davis Collectors' Items 1956 [52][53]
1954 Bud Powell Jazz Original 1955 [54][55]
1955 Miles Davis Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 2015 Monk on piano; this gig was considered a kind of comeback for Davis as it supposedly earned him the contract with Columbia Records - resulting in his 'Round About Midnight the following year [56][57][58]
1956 Miles Davis 'Round About Midnight 1957 [59][60]
1956 Miles Davis Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants 1959 Monk participated on the record but not on the track [61][62]
1956 June Christy The Misty Miss Christy 1956 [63]
1956 Kenny Dorham 'Round About Midnight at the Cafe Bohemia 1957 [64][65]
1956 Art Farmer & Donald Byrd 2 Trumpets 1957 [66][67]
1957 Jimmy Smith Jimmy Smith Trio + LD 1957 [68]
1957 Billy Taylor The New Billy Taylor Trio 1958 [69][70]
1958 Michel Legrand Legrand Jazz 1958 [71][72]
1958 Mel Tormé Tormé 1958 [73]
1958 Gil Evans New Bottle Old Wine 1958 [74]
1959 Art Pepper Art Pepper + Eleven – Modern Jazz Classics 1960 [75]
1959 Wes Montgomery The Wes Montgomery Trio 1959 [76]
1959 Sun Ra Sound Sun Pleasure!! 1970 [77]
1960 Julie London Around Midnight 1960 [78]
1960 The Nashville All-Stars After the Riot at Newport 1961 featuring Hank Garland, Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph, Floyd Cramer, Bob Moore, Buddy Harman, Gary Burton & Brenton Banks [79][80]
1961 Ella Fitzgerald & Lou Levy Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! 1962 [81]
1961 George Russell Ezz-thetics 1961 [82]
1961 Miles Davis Directions 1980 Compilation; The whole concert recording was released in 2003 as In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete. [83][84]
1961 Grant Green Green Street 1961 [85][86]
1961 Art Farmer & Benny Golson The Jazztet at Birdhouse 1961 [87][88]
1962 Milt Jackson Big Bags 1962 [89][90]
1962 Barry Harris Chasin' the Bird 1962 [91][92]
1962 Jimmy McGriff I've Got a Women 1963 [93]
1962 Betty Carter 'Round Midnight '63 1963 [94]
1962 Sam Jones Down Home 1962 [95]
1963 Bill Evans Conversations with Myself 1963 [96]
1963 Bill Evans Time Remembered 1983 [97][98][99]
1963 Bill Evans At Shelly's Manne-Hole 1963 [100][101]
1963 Sarah Vaughan Sarah Sings Soulfully 1963 [102]
1963 Dizzy Gillespie Something Old, Something New 1963 [103]
1963 Freda Payne After the Lights Go Down Low and Much More!!! 1964 [104]
1963 Oscar Peterson & Nelson Riddle Oscar Peterson and Nelson Riddle 1963 [105]
1964 Bill Evans The Bill Evans Trio "Live" 1971 [106]
1964 Sonny Rollins Now's the Time 1964 [107]
1964 Ella Fitzgerald Ella in Japan: 'S Wonderful 2011 [108]
1965 Bill Evans Trio '65 1965 [109]
1965 George Russell George Russell Sextet at Beethoven Hall 1965 [110]
1965 Andy Bey 'Round Midnight 1965 [111]
1966 Wes Montgomery & Jimmy Smith Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes 1966 [112]
1967 Bill Evans California Here I Come 1982 [113][114]
1969 Miles Davis 1969 Miles – Festiva De Juan Pins 1993 The whole concert recording was released in 2013 as Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2. [115][116]
1969 Bill Evans Autumn Leaves 1980 [117]
1969 Bill Evans You're Gonna Hear from Me 1988 [118]
1969 Betty Carter Round Midnight '75 1975 [119]
1970 Joe Henderson If You're Not Part of the Solution, You're Part of the Problem 1970 [120]
1971 Joe Henderson Joe Henderson in Japan 1971 [121]
1972 Kenny Burrell 'Round Midnight 1972 [122]
1973 Joe Pass Virtuoso 1973 [123]
1976 Barry Harris Live in Tokyo 1976 [124]
1976 Dexter Gordon Homecoming: Live at the Village Vanguard 1977 [125]
1977 Joe McPhee Variations on a Blue Line 1979 [126]
1978 Art Pepper Among Friends 1978 [127]
1979 Joe Pass & Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen Northsea Nights 1979 [128]
1979 Ella Fitzgerald A Perfect Match 1979 [129]
1980 Sun Ra Arkestra Sunrise in Different Dimensions 1981 [130]
1981 Chick Corea Trio Music 1981 [131]
1981 Herbie Hancock Quartet 1982 [132]
1981 Freddie Hubbard Keystone Bop Vol. 2: Friday & Saturday 1996 [133]
1981 Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy Live at Dreher, Paris 1981 1996 [134]
1984 Dorothy Ashby Django/Misty 1984 [135]
1984 Various Artists That's the Way I Feel Now: A Tribute to Thelonious Monk 1984 Interpretation by Joe Jackson [136]
1984 Michel Petrucciani Live at the Village Vanguard 1985 [137][138]
1984 Stanley Jordan Magic Touch 1985 [139]
1984 Kronos Quartet Monk Suite 1984 [140]
1985 Herbie Hancock Round Midnight 1986 Soundtrack for Bertrand Tavernier's 1986 movie of the same name [141]
1985 Dexter Gordon The Other Side of Round Midnight 1986 Recorded during the shooting of for the 1986 film; produced and arranged by Hancock as well. [142]
1985 Ahmad Jamal Live at the Montreal Jazz Festival 1985 1986 [143]
1986 Linda Ronstadt For Sentimental Reasons 1986 [144]
1986 Helen Merrill Music Makers 1986 [145]
1988 Carmen McRae Carmen Sings Monk 1988 [146]
1988 Hue & Cry Bitter Suite 1989 [147]
1989 Charlie Rouse Epistrophy 1989 [148]
1989 Charlie Haden The Montreal Tapes: Tribute to Joe Henderson 2004 [149]
1989 Chick Corea Alive 1991 [150]
1990 Art Ensemble of Chicago & Cecil Taylor Thelonious Sphere Monk: Dreaming of the Masters Series Vol. 2 1992 [151]
1990 Chick Corea & Bobby McFerrin Play 1990 [152]
1991 Big Sugar Big Sugar 1991 [153]
1991 Cassandra Wilson Live 1991 [154]
1991 Ran Blake Epistrophy 1991 [155]
1991 Cassandra Wilson After the Beginning Again 1997 [156]
1993 Elkie Brooks Round Midnight 1996 [157]
1996 Lee Konitz Alone Together 1997 with Brad Mehldau & Charlie Haden [158]
1996 Elkie Brooks Amazing 1996 [159]
1998 Andy Summers Green Chimneys 1999 [160]
1999 Keith Jarrett Whisper Not 2000 with his "Standards Trio" [161]
2000 Jessica Williams The Real Deal 2004 [162]
2001 Billy Cobham The Art of Three 2001 [163]
2002 Ledisi Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue 2002 [164]
2003 Alexander von Schlippenbach Monk's Casino 2005 [165][166]
2004 Amy Winehouse Take the Box 2004 [167]
2004 Gotan Project Inspiración Espiración 2004 [168]
2004 Chaka Khan ClassiKhan 2004 [169]
2007 Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden Last Dance 2014 [170]
2012 Sylvia Brooks Restless 2012 [171]
2013 Earl Klugh HandPicked 2013 [172]

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Other sources[edit]

  • Gourse, Leslie. Straight, No Chaser: The Life and Genius of Thelonious Monk. Schirmer Books, 1998. ISBN 0-8256-7229-5