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Round About Midnight


Miles Davis
Round About Midnight

Columbia Records
CK 40610


1. ‘Round Midnight
(Hanighen – C. Williams – T. Monk)

2. Ah-Leu-Cha
(C. Parker)

3. All Of You (6:58)
(C. Porter) 

4. Bye Bye Blackbird
(M. Dixon – R. Henderson)

5. Tadd’s Delight (4:26)

6. Dear Old Stockholm (7:49)
(S. Getz)

Produced by George Avakian


John Coltrane – Tenor Sax
William “Red” Garland – Piano
Paul Chambers – Bass
“Philly Joe” Jones – Drums

This album marks the debut of Miles Davis on Columbia, except for his interpretation of “Sweet Sue” on Leonard Bernstein’s lecture-demonstration record, What Is Jazz. Appropriately, it is by the Miles Davis Quintet, which was organized in 1955 and is now in its second year as a permanent unit. It is also one of the most popular groups in the jazz field today, as its personal appearances from coast to coast attest.

Miles himself has gradually emerged as one of the great figures of the modern jazz scene.  His first years in the jazz scene found him greatly overshadowed by Dizzy Gillespie, although his playing – while obviously influenced by Gillespie – actually did not resemble closely that of the older exponent of modern jazz trumpet. More recently, Miles has acquired further polish and sureness, and also a wider public, to the point where he now places first among trumpet players in the those jazz polls which are not one by Dizzy Gillespie.

His playing is characterized by both the nervous, jagged lines of the bop school and the pensive relaxation of the cool period that followed. The latter quality dominates in Miles’ playing, and to such a degree that it tempers the surface excitement of his playing in fast tempo; Miles seldom produces the familiar sound of frantic exasperation to exploit the emotions of his listeners, but rather seeks to achieve response through the inner tension of his improvisations. The paradox of tension produced by an outwardly relaxed style is an achievement first developed in its highest form by Lester Young, and has been brought to new heights for the trumpet by Miles.

The Davis tone – soft, rich, intimate in its breathy warmth- is one of his most immediately recognizable characteristics. In recent years, Miles has also chosen to exploit the sound of the muted trumpet, blown softly but very close to a microphone. Both in clubs and in these records, he has achieved a personalized sound though his technique. His open horn is still the trademark by which his fans know him, and it has earned him an audience ranging from youngsters new to the jazz world to old-time fans who find in his sound a recollection of the great Joe Smith, who was sharing solos with young Louis Armstrong in Fletcher Henderson’s band before Miles was born.

Miles, who comes from Alton, Illinois, learned to play trumpet in and around St. Louis. His first idol was Roy Eldridge. When Billy Eckstine’s band came through town, Miles met Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Gillespie was taken by the quiet youngster and let him sit in with the band. In 1945, at the age of 19, Miles left home to study at the Julliard School in New York, where he acquired a foundation in harmony and theory. Dizzy advised him to study piano, so that he could play variant chords for himself; this led Miles to a solider, faster, and more confident understanding of what a soloist could and could not play above such harmonies.

Miles was quickly accepted into the group of musicians centered around Gillespie and especially Parker, with whom he made his first recordings. He played with many small New York groups, and even joined Eckstine for a while. Encouraged by his Julliard studies, Miles embarked briefly on a medium-sized band venture which was a great success musically but one of the grandest failures the jazz nightclub scene has ever known. It was a frankly experimental group, with some of the most unusual arrangements ever offered by a jazz band up to that time, and its brass section was augmented by a French horn and tuba. In order to eat, Miles went back to working with Parker and others on 52nd Street, which was then in its last stage before the complete taking over by strip-teasers. (Today, only “Jimmy Ryan’s,” second only to Greenwich Village’s “Nick’s” as the oldest home of Dixieland in New York, continues to offer jazz.)

Illness forced Miles into a physical and musical decline for a time, but he came back strong in 1954 and has since proven himself a greater musician than ever. His present [1955] quintet serves as his full-time showcase, and as these records attest, it is one of the best post-bop jazz groups in the country today.

With Miles are three Philadelphians and a young bassist from Detroit. Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane is something of a personal find of Miles’; although he broke into the business as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s big band in 1949, it has been through Miles that he has achieved acceptance as a solo performer. Pianist Red Garland is also a kind of Miles Davis protégé, and shares with Miles a keen interest in boxing; as a matter of fact. Red was once a good enough welterweight to have had the privilege of losing to Sugar Ray Robinson on the latter’s way to the championship. (It was no disgrace; Robinson did not lose a bout for more than ten years during that period of his career.)

Drummer Joe Jones is one of the Roach-Blakey school of “hard” percussionists; he is also known as “Philly Joe” Jones so as to avoid confusion with Jonathan “Jo” Jones, the ex-Basie drummer. Paul Chambers, who got into the big time with the J.J. Johnson-Kai Winding Quintet, has already established himself as one of the best young bass players to come along in recent years.

The recordings in this collection are representative of the Miles Davis repertoire in recent years. “Round Midnight,” written by pianist Thelonious Monk with embellishments by ex-Ellington trumpeter Cootie Williams, has become something of a modern jazz classic since first Williams and then Gillespie recorded it more than a decade ago. It is also the piece which Miles played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955 with such effect that it started people asking each other where Miles had been lately. (It turned out he had been around, but nobody had been listening.) Its reflective changes are a perfect vehicle for Miles’ bluest mood, and it bids fair to acquire permanent association with him in the jazz literature.

“Ah-Leu-Cha” harkens back to Miles’ early association with Charlie Parker in New York. It has a strange quality of counterpoint; the arranged beginning and ending sound like Dixieland in the bop vein. (Parker’s compositions frequently employed this kind of counterpoint; “Chasing The Bird,” recorded by the J.J. Johnson Quintet, is another example.)

What Miles can do with a lovely pop tune is amply shown in the easy, relaxed, two-beat interpretation of Cole Porter’s show tune, “All Of You.” Much the same feeling holds in the ancient standard “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Some of Miles’ fans expressed shock when he first played old pop hits like this – or even new ones like “All Of You” – but this disturbs Miles not the slightest. He finds them ideal themes for his horn and his group, and that’s all he wants to know.

“Tadd’s Delight” recalls still another association of the forties; Tadd Dameron is by now the elder stateman among the composer-arrangers of the bebop period, and was one of the first to bring a technical background (he had studied the Schillinger System of composition and arranging) to the new school of jazz.

“Dear Old Stockholm” is a Swedish folk tune whose nostalgic quality lends itself ideally to Miles’ muted style. The unusual construction of this piece, with its many breaks, gives it a feeling which is a combination of sentiment and the quality best described as misterioso. Paul Chambers’ long bass solo, placed early in the interpretation, adds to the sensation of strangeness that pervades this moving performance.

-    George Avakian (1955)      

Liner notes taken from original analog release.


Produced by George Avakian

Digital Master prepared by Teo Macero
Engineered by Ray Moore

Recorded October 27, 1955 at the Columbia 799 Seventh Avenue Studio and June 5, 1956 and September 10, 1956 at the Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City.

Columbia Records is proud to present the legends who created the uniquely American art form called "jazz." Throughout the development of jazz, Columbia has recorded performances of the greatest jazz artists. Now these important recordings can be experienced as never before, through the exciting Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series.

This series signifies a complete dedication to bringing the listener the finest sound quality possible. All recordings in the series have been digitally remastered from the original analog tapes, using state-of-the-art equipment and original producers when possible. Every selection is available on compact disc, cassette, and LP.

The packaging meets an equally high standard, in most cases retaining and enhancing the original artwork. Liner notes document the historical importance of these masterpieces, using original notes and new research.

There are 20 titles available right now, and in coming months there will be landmark works and new compilations by Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, and many other giants – keeping the history of jazz alive for all time.

Duke Ellington: "At Newport" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40587)

Duke Ellington always cited his initial engagement at the Cotton Club as "a classic example of being at the right place at the right time with the right thing before the right people." Another such example occurred at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 7, 1956, when his appearance resulted in this, his best-selling album, and the transformation of his career.

Erroll Garner: "Concert By The Sea" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40589)

This is the archetype of the jazz-piano concert album, from the most imitated pianist in contemporary music. In a single evening in Carmel, California, Erroll and his trio left a timeless mark on recording history and earned a spot on The New York Times all-time best jazz album list.

Miles Davis: "'Round About Midnight" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40610)

Miles debuted his legendary Columbia career with this set, titled after the Thelonious Monk-penned classic. It was recorded with the Miles Davis Quintet (which included John Coltrane on tenor sax) in their second year in existence. This album found Miles hitting his stride as a master of the trumpet.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet: "Gone With The Wind" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40627)

Inspired after a tour of the South to record an album of familiar tunes to complement his already released album of originals (Time Out), Brubeck and the Quartet are here at their best. Amazingly, most of the tracks are first takes; but spontaneity was always the essence of Brubeck and is, indeed, the essence of jazz.

"The Quintessential Billie Holiday Volume I, 1933-1935" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40646)

Billie was the quintessential jazz vocalist, living as well as singing the blues. This is the first volume in a new series compiling her Columbia career, which began in 1933 after her discovery by John Hammond. The collection starts with her first recording (with no less than Benny Goodman) and includes 16 of her best tracks through 1935.

Miles Davis: "Porgy And Bess" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40647)

After their success with Miles Ahead, Miles and Gil Evans turned their collaborative exploration of jazz orchestration to the classic American folk opera. Gershwin's Porgy And Bess provided an operatic setting of blues motifs; Gil and Miles created their own performance by framing Miles' trumpet in an orchestral accompaniment. A truly unique synthesis of musical idioms.

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Columbia Jazz Masterpieces Sampler Volume I (CK, CJ, CJT: 40474)

Includes: Miles Davis "So What;” Billie Holiday "You've Changed;” Dave Brubeck Quartet "Somewhere;” Louis Armstrong  ''I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby And My Baby's Crazy 'Bout Me;” Benny Goodman Sextet "Lullaby Of The Leaves," Dave Brubeck Quartet "Take Five;” Miles Davis "Saeta;” Louis Armstrong "Beale Street Blues," Duke Ellington/Count Basie Orchestras "Until I Met You;” and Benny Goodman "Sing Sing Sing (With A Swing)."

Miles Davis: "Sketches of Spain" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40578)

A uniquely creative collaboration between Miles and arranger and conductor Gil Evans. Davis has rarely soloed with such concentration of emotion. The authenticity of phrasing and timbre are magical, displaying him as an artist with the unique ability to absorb the language of another culture and express it with universal emotion and authenticity.

Miles Davis: "Bitches Brew" (G2K, J2C, J2T: 40577)

The first shot fired in the "fusion" revolution, this landmark album featuring John McLaughlin and Joe Zawinul changed the entire concept of contemporary music. Time stands still for this electric masterpiece that is both beautiful and frightening.

Duke Ellington and Count Basie: "First Time' The Count Meets The Duke" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40586)

On this momentous occasion (July 6, 1961), the full orchestras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie recorded together, side by side. The results are great in significance, great in musical content and, above all, great in demonstrating the two famous leaders' mutual appreciation and understanding.

Billie Holiday: "Lady in Satin" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40247)

The ultimate jazz singer gives her heart and soul with a performance that is intimate and moving, recorded just over a year before she died. This collection contains the first genuine stereo version of "The End of a Love Affair." "Lady in Satin" is a potent statement made by one of the great artists of the 20th century.

Benny Goodman: "Sextet" (CK, CJ, CJT 40379)

This is a brand new compilation of the Sextet's best from the 1950 – ‘52 recording sessions, featuring Terry Gibbs on vibraphone. This period has been sadly overlooked by critics and collectors alike, and this collection will be a revelation to jazz enthusiasts.

Benny Goodman: "Carnegie Hall Concert" (G2K, J2C, J2T: 40244)

This complete version of the legendary Carnegie Hall concert is a landmark of recorded music and a jazz milestone. Among the many brilliant artists who took part are Harry James, Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, Cootie Williams, Count Basie, Vernon Brown and Teddy Wilson. No collection is complete without it. As they say: "Sing, Sing, Sing."

Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars: "Satch Plays Fats" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40378)

There can be few performers in the history of music who have, both during and after their lifetime, attracted myths as readily as Louis Armstrong. Here, Satch pays tribute to his old friend Fats Waller on an album that has become a collector's item. New, previously unreleased takes have been chosen from the original studio masters on some of the selections.

Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars: "Plays W.C. Handy” (CK, CJ, CJT: 40242)

W.C. Handy (the "Father of the Blues") and Louis Armstrong – a natural combination that results in pure magic. The album garnered a five-star rating in down beat magazine over 30 years ago, and Louis' brilliance was quoted as "surprising even his most dedicated admirers.” Some previously unissued takes are included.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet: "Time Out" (CK, CJ, CJT: 40585)

Features the classic tracks "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk." This collection finds this pioneering artist exploring exotic time signatures and counterpoint rhythms. A unique blending of classical Western music, the freedom of jazz improvisation and the often complex pulse of African folk music.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet: "Plays Music from 'West Side Story' and Other Shows and Films" (CK , JC, JCT: 40455)

This new collection is highlighted by swinging renditions of "Maria;” "Somewhere" and "Tonight" from the original recording, plus other great show tunes given the inimitable Brubeck treatment. The Quartet features Joe Morello, Gene Wright and Paul Desmond.

Miles Davis: "In a Silent Way" (CK, JC, JCT: 40580)

An incredible assembly of talent featuring Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin and Joe Zawinul – each of whom has gone on to make his own mark in jazz history. This collection presents an example of ground-breaking musical expression rarely achieved.

Miles Davis: "Kind of Blue" (CK, JC, JCT: 40579)

Group improvisation at its best. Features John Coltrane, Bill Evans, James Cobb and Paul Chambers in one of the finest spontaneous performances ever recorded. Miles presents the framework necessary to stimulate individual expression to achieve a sublime result.

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