Even though the most-recorded jazz standard composed by a jazz musician never gained significant popularity in Brazil compared to other jazz standards, some notable recordings were made in the fifties and sixties which are worth to be rediscovered.
Pianist Thelonius Monk allegedly wrote basic elements of ‘Round Midnight at the age of 18 in 1936 before completing the song in the early forties. ‘Round Midnight was published in 1944, when trumpeter Cootie Williams introduced the song on record, making it his orchestra’s signature tune. Due to the interlude he added to the composition, Williams shares credit in terms of copyright since then. Two years later, Dizzy Gillespie added his introduction and cadenza for big band orchestration that became a very common opening of the song. Thelonius Monk recorded the song first in 1947, issued as Round About Midnight, with George Taitt on trumpet, Edmund Gregory on alto saxophone, Robert Paige on bass and Art Blakey on drums. Two years later, Jackie Paris recorded the first vocal version with the lyrics added in 1944 by Bernie Hanighen.
Although Laurindo Almeida recorded ‘Round Midnight already in 1958 with alto saxophonist and flutist Bud Shank on their collaboration album Latin Contrasts, the record was not released in Brazil until its reissue as Brazilliance Vol. 3 in 1962.
Hence, ist was Maysa’s recording on her album Canção do Amor Mais Triste, arranged and conducted by Erlon Chaves, that introduced ’Round Midnight in Brazil, moreover with her most delightful performance in English.
In the sixties, three more fine recordings of ‘Round Midnight were made, one by alto saxophonist Victor Assis Brasil, accompanied by Hélio Delmiro on guitar and Sérgio Barroso on bass, and two by Baden Powell.
Selected recordings of ‘Round Midnight:
1. Laurindo Almeida & Bud Shank from the album Latin Contrasts aka Brazilliance Vol. 3 (1958, World-Pacific Records [USA] WP-1281 and 1962, World-Pacific Records [USA] WP-1425)
2. Maysa from the album Canção do Amor Mais Triste (1962, RGE XRLP 5180)
3. Baden Powell from the album Tristeza on Guitar aka Baden (1966, SABA [Germany] SB 15090 ST and 1968, Elenco ME-48)
4. Victor Assis Brasil from the album Trajeto (1968, Equipe EQC 6004)
5. Baden Powell from the album Lotus (1970, Festival [France] FLDX 598)
Comparative recordings of ‘Round Midnight:
1. Cootie Williams from the single Somebody’s Got To Go b/w ‘Round Midnight (1944, HIT 7119)
2. Thelonius Monk from the single Round About Midnight b/w Well You Needn’t (1947, Blue Note 543)
3. Jackie Paris from the EP Goodbye Sue / Old Master Painter b/w ‘Round Midnight / Please (1949, National 9094)
It begins to tell ’round midnight, midnight • I do pretty well, till after sundown • Suppertime I’m feelin’ sad • But it really gets bad ’round midnight
Memories always start ’round midnight, midnight • Haven’t got the heart to stand those memories • When my heart is still with you • And ol’ midnight knows it, too
When some quarrel we had needs mending • Does it mean that our love is ending • Darlin’ I need you • Lately I find • You’re out of my heart • I’m out of my mind
Let our hearts take wings • ‘Round midnight, midnight • Let the angels sing for your returning • Let our love be safe and sound • When old midnight comes around