'Round Midnight (song)  

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But it really gets bad,
'round midnight.

--"'Round Midnight" by Thelonious Monk

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"'Round Midnight" is a 1944 jazz standard by jazz musician Thelonious Monk. It is thought that Monk originally composed it sometime between 1940 and 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". "'Round Midnight" has been recorded with greater frequency than any other standard composed by a jazz musician.

See the versions by Andy Bey and his sisters and the version by Amy Winehouse.


According to Colomby, Cootie Williams wanted to record and publish the composition, and he offered Monk $300 as an advance. As part of the deal, Monk gave Williams credit for collaboration. The Cootie Williams orchestra eventually recorded the tune in 1944, with Monk's protégé Bud Powell on piano, and the band used it as their theme tune. Soon after, Bernie Hanighen added lyrics to the tune, and Monk had to share composer's credit and royalties with him as well. Monk eventually recorded the tune several times - his first recording seems to have been as part of the Dizzy Gillespie big band in 1946. Dizzy added an introduction and coda which Monk eventually incorporated into his own performance. Monk first recorded the tune as leader on a 21 November 1947 session for Blue Note Records.

In 1955, Miles Davis played "'Round Midnight" at the Newport Jazz Festival, with Monk on piano. Davis's performance, coming after a period in the early 1950s when he struggled with drug addiction and his recordings mainly met with indifference, reawakened critical interest in him, and led to the formation of his quintet with John Coltrane, and signing to Columbia Records. Davis's first album for Columbia, released the following year, was called 'Round About Midnight (the tune is often given the variant title), and "'Round Midnight" was the opening track. A 2005 CD reissue of the album includes the Newport performance. Two recordings by the Miles Davis Quintet were made in 1956 - for the Columbia album, and as part of the marathon sessions for Prestige Records which resulted in Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet and three companion albums. The version recorded for Prestige was eventually released on Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants, alongside 1954 recordings of other tunes on which Monk was the pianist. Davis had previously recorded "'Round Midnight" for Prestige in 1953 (with a group including Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker), and he recorded it again in 1958 as part of the Michel Legrand orchestra. "'Round Midnight" remained in Davis's live set until 1969, at a time when he had largely abandoned other jazz standards and was exploring jazz fusion, and several concert recordings by Davis have been commercially released.

As with many of his compositions, Monk made further studio recordings of the tune throughout his career, including a solo version recorded for the 1968 Columbia Records Greatest Hits. Monk's last recording session, on 15 November 1971 in London, also included a solo rendition of "'Round Midnight". The tune has since become an established jazz standard and is one of the most-recorded jazz compositions.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "'Round Midnight (song)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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