(Previously blogged as the UK Philips release, with a blue cover and photographically enhanced trumpet, now “upgraded” to the original Columbia CL949)
Selection: ‘Round About Midnight 320kbps MP3 Columbia six-eye mono
Miles Davis (trumpet) John Coltrane (tenor saxophone) Red Garland (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums)
Recorded variously at Columbia Studio D, NYC, October 26, 1955, Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC, June 5, 1956 and September 10, 1956
Musically, this sound is as unusual and as beautiful as it was when issued in 1956. Davis had already led the charge through two changes in jazz — both cool jazz and hard bop — and was beginning to move in another direction here that wouldn’t be defined for another two years.
Besides the obvious lyrical and harmonic beauty of “Round About Midnight” that is arguably its definitive version even over Monk’s own, there are the edges of Charlie Parker’s “Au Leu-Cha” with its Bluesology leaping from every chord change in Red Garland’s left hand. Coltrane’s solo here too is notable for its stark contrast to Davis’ own: he chooses an angular tack where he finds the heart of the mode and plays a melody in harmonic counterpoint to the changes but never sounds outside.
LJC says: I agree…who wouldn’t?
Vinyl: Columbia CL949 Six-Eye 1A 1B matrix, mono
As proud and happy owner of a dozen or more Columbia Six-Eyes, 32nd cutting, 19th cutting, 5th cutting ( if you are not up to speed on Columbia matrix codes, consult my Learn to Speak Columbian Guide) I’ve always wanted a first Columbia 1A 1B cutting, the one nearest the original tape. Not that I have ever found any difference between all these cuttings, or anything wrong with Six-Eyes (apart from the CBS overprint variety).
Totally unannounced, and unexpected, this record was described as the “original CL949”, but turned out to be more original than the seller knew. It carries an A1 B1 matrix. ( Poorly concealed delight. Whooooee !) Condition not as great as I would have liked, 1956 tracking weight 15 gram early radiogram arms were designed to slice vinyl and cruel to record surfaces, especially those at the thinner end of the vinyl weight range, but much of it holds up pretty well, and Columbia Six-Eye can do no sonic wrong in my book.
Collector’s Note: CL949 was also issued on Columbia CS 8649, PC 8649; Columbia/Legacy CJ 40610, CK 40610 entitled “‘Round About Midnight (fake stereo).
Some records are simply essential, in my view, this is one of them.
Essential Listening Nominations
Miles Davis ‘Round About Midnight is probably one recording I consider “essential” in any modern jazz collection. That is not to say there aren’t many other good records, even lots of other great records. But which are the “essential” ones?
Not necessarily what you are currently listening to, or your favourites, but most important landmark recordings. Five is an arbitrary number but it is harder to narrow down to a few than to shoe in many.
If you had to select just five modern jazz records from your collection – to make it easier let’s say records to lend to a friend who is new to modern jazz, wants to listen to a little more. What would be on your list? For this exercise assume your friend will treat the records carefully, and will return them to you safe and sound at the end of the week. And they can’t carry more than five. They can be imaginary records, you don’t have to own them. It’s a hypothetical exercise. You don’t actually have to have any friends either. You can pretend.
Play Jazz Bingo (an LJC first)