Thelonious Monk: 'Round Midnight (1947)
Thelonious Monk (piano)
The Complete Blue Note Recordings (Blue Note 30363)
Bob Paige (bass).
Composed by Thelonious Monk.
Recorded: New York, November 21, 1947
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Monk's initial cover of his best-known song came three years after Cootie Williams first recorded it with majestic trumpeting amid a big band and with nary a hint of bebop. Yet as Monk shows, a small group better befits "'Round Midnight." Using trumpet and sax to help establish haunting atmospherics, Monk carries the melody by himself (except for a 5-note phrase strikingly harmonized between piano and alto) and is the sole soloist. Listeners sometimes mistake Monk's deliberate fractures—by 1947 fully developed both instrumentally and compositionally—as mistakes or hesitation; they are neither. They're the probings of a visionary sculptor radically reshaping modern jazz.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz