Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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‘Round Midnight

First recorded (as “‘Round About Midnight”) by Cootie Williams & His Orchestra (1944).
Also recorded by Dizzy Gillespie (1946), Jackie Paris (1949), Sarah Vaughn (1963).
Popular versions by Thelonious Monk (1947|1957), Miles Davis (1956).

From the wiki: “By the time Thelonious Monk recorded ”Round Midnight’ as a band leader, in 1947, his composition was already well-known around jazz circles and was considered a classic. It has since gone on to become the most-recorded Jazz standard composed by a jazz performer, appearing on more than 1000 recordings. It is thought that Monk originally composed ”Round Midnight” sometime in 1940 or 1941. Historian Harry Colomby, however, claims that Monk could even have written an earlier version of the song around 1936 (at the age of 19) with the title ‘Grand Finale’.

“Cootie Williams began his professional career at age 14 on the trumpet with the Young Family band, a group who included saxophonist Lester Young. Williams later rose to prominence as a member of Duke Ellington’s orchestra, with whom he performed from 1929 to 1940. In 1940 he joined Benny Goodman’s orchestra, a highly publicized move that caused quite a stir at the time; then, in 1941, Williams formed the first of his own orchestras.

“In August 1944, at the urging of Bud Powell, Williams and his orchestra were the first to record Monk’s ”Round Midnight’. (Williams would also the first to record Monk’s ‘Epistrophy’, in 1941.) Originally titled ‘’Round About Midnight’, Monk’s composition became the theme song for Williams’ Orchestra (and Williams was given co-writing credit). Jackie Paris introduced it as a vocal in 1949 (with lyrics by Bernie Hanighen).

“In 1946, Dizzy Gillespie added his famous introduction and cadenza for his Big Band arrangement, which proved so popular that Monk added it (albeit in altered version) to his own performance. It is now a standard part of the song.

“Jazz singer and guitarist Jackie Paris recorded a vocal arrangement of ”Round Midnight’ in 1949, in a session produced by the music critic Leonard Feather. Paris’ recording featured a young Dick Hyman on piano.

“A major turning point for ”Round Midnight’, and also for the world of jazz, was Miles Davis’ show-stopping performance (with Monk) of the song at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival. This was considered a sort of comeback for Davis, resulting in a contract with Columbia Records and the release of one of the definitive recordings of ”Round Midnight’ on his 1956 ‘Round About Midnight album. Davis’ performance at Newport and his subsequent recording played a large part in introducing ”Round Midnight’ to the jazz public at-large. One critic has called the composition the ‘National Anthem of Jazz’.

“Monk, himself, first recorded ”Round Midnight’ as a leader on November 21, 1947. By the end of the hard-bop ’50s, ”Round Midnight’ was firmly entrenched as a jazz standard, played by dozens of jazz luminaries, sung by Sarah Vaughan, and recorded regularly by Monk in a variety of settings, including a whimsical 1957 solo version (see below) on the critically-acclaimed Thelonious Himself album (of which music critic Robert Christgau wrote, ‘is probably [Monk’s] best solo album.’).

“In 1993, Monk was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2006, he was also posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. Thelonius Monk is also one of only five Jazz musicians to grace the cover of Time magazine (the other four being Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, and Dave Brubeck). ”

Dizzy Gillespie, “‘Round Midnight” (1946):

Thelonious Monk, “‘Round Midnight” (1947):

Jackie Paris, “‘Round Midnight” (1949):

Miles Davis with Thelonious Monk, live performance @ Newport Jazz Festival “‘Round Midnight” (1955):

Miles Davis with John Coltrane, “‘Round Midnight” (1957):

Thelonious Monk, “‘Round Midnight” from Thelonious Himself (1957):

Sarah Vaughn, “‘Round Midnight” (1963):

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