"You know, anybody can play a composition and use far-out chords and make it sound wrong. It’s making it sound right that’s not easy."
Round Midnight is one of those standards my father introduced me to very early. It was one of those songs we would work on to see if i could actually manage to sing. I don't think i will ever do justice to this song. I stopped trying but I was still curious to see how other musicians interpreted this song. It is one of the most recorded songs in jazz history but what makes it so popular?
You don't understand how tough it is until you try to sing/play it, the melody is not easy to listen to and yet it touched so many hearts. If you ask me its one of those songs monk composed that came from his gut. The music is haunting and beautiful sometimes even claustrophobic not really giving you any space to breathe with him cutting the meditative atmosphere with strange half notes.
It is said that Monk composed this track in the 1940s. Miles Davis used this track later as the name of his album Round about midnight. The thing about Monks compositions were that his music was way ahead of his time and that his music was never fully appreciated when it was released. Now however is a completely different story!
This first version is one by Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea. They are just fantastic together, voice and piano flowing into each other like water. This one came from the album play something i will be putting up most of in later posts. It captures that haunting quality I'm so bad at describing!It is one of my or maybe my favourite version of this track. All these versions are vocal renditions of the track.
How can one have a vocal tribute to a jazz melody without Ella? This was the first version I heard of this song after which I got slightly obsessive! She brings Round Midnight to the big band with such class. I don't know how she makes this song sound so easy! Her sense of rhythm is unbeatable she brings the swing to the song.
Cassandra Wilson has the voice for this song. Its beautiful earthy timbre was made for singing music with this kind of atmosphere. I personally prefer it to the Ella version, its got more soul.
I know Jazz hardcore's will kill me for this but when i was looking for versions on youtube I found one by Amy Winehouse! Its the most accessible version and is actually quite nice. Please listen with an open heart and open mind!