Saturday Night Tunes: ‘Round About Midnight

Since I mentioned Miles Davis’s two “Great Quintets” last week, I thought we could spend the next couple of weeks on them. This week we’re listening to an album from the First Great Quintet and next week we’ll listen to something from the Second Great Quintet. Nice, right?

‘Round About Midnight is my choice for this week, mostly because that’s the first thing that caught my eye when I was looking at my CD rack. You can’t go wrong with any of the First Great Quintet’s music, like the series they recorded on Prestige (Miles, Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, and Steamin’) and this and Milestones on Columbia. This group, with Davis leading and on trumpet, John Coltrane on tenor, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums, has unbelievable chemistry, driven by maybe the greatest rhythm section in jazz history (at least considering longevity and familiarity with one another). The comfort that these five musicians had playing with each other comes through on every tune. This album was recorded in two sessions, in 1955 and 1956, but couldn’t be released until 1957 after Davis’s Prestige contract had run its course.

The following year the group became a sextet with alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Red Garland and Philly Joe Jones left and were replaced by Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Cobb, respectively, and we all know what happened after that.

On to the music, none of which, interestingly, was written by Davis:

“‘Round Midnight” is the Thelonious Monk classic given beautiful treatment by Davis with his usual Harmon mute:

“Ah-Leu-Cha” was written by Charlie Parker and Davis presumably knew it well considering that he was Parker’s sideman the first time it was recorded back in 1948. Compare and contrast, if you like:

The Cole Porter-written standard “All of You” is up next. I suppose it’s not quite Ella Fitzgerald:

but it’s still pretty damn good:

Another standard is next, “Bye Bye Blackbird,” written in 1926 by Ray Henderson (lyrics by Mort Dixon):

“Tadd’s Delight” was written by the prolific bebop composer-arranger Tadd Dameron:

Bringing up the rear is “Dear Old Stockholm,” a Swedish folk song originally arranged for jazz by saxophonist Stan Getz in the early 1950s:

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Author: DWD

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