Phineas Newborn, Jr.: The Midnight Sun Will Never Set


The Midnight Sun Will Never Set (aka The Midnight Sun Never Sets)



Solo Piano (Collectables 6372)

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Phineas Newborn, Jr. (piano).

Composed by Dorcas Cochran, Quincy Jones & Henri Salvador


Recorded: Memphis, TN, January 1974


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

"If I had to choose the best all-around pianist of anyone who's followed me chronologically," Oscar Peterson decided, "undoubtedly I would say Phineas Newborn, Jr." After a promising start in the mid- 1950s, Newborn's recurring mental meltdowns led to confinement in the Jazz Wing at Camarillo State Hospital and elsewhere, continuing intermittently until his death at 57. "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set" may have been a beacon of clarity in Phineas's fog, but if so we are fortunate to glimpse it. With such artists, it's better not to dwell on what might've been, and savor instead their gifts, however fleeting.

Caveat: "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set" is often misnamed "The Midnight Sun Never Sets," perhaps due to Quincy Jones having written it in the back of a cab, as recounted by's David Tenenholtz. Rest assured it's the same song, which in any case must not be confused with "Midnight Sun," a 1947 melody by Sonny Burke & Lionel Hampton to which, in 1955, Johnny Mercer mentally added lyrics while driving his car home from Hollywood to Newport Beach. (What is there about midnight suns and moving vehicles?) I hope all that's clear. You will be tested on this later!

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz


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