‘Round Midnight – Thelonious Monk with sheet music
“‘Round Midnight” is a 1944 composition by pianist Thelonious Monk that quickly became a jazz standard and has been recorded by a wide variety of artists. A version recorded by Monk’s quintet was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1993. It is the most recorded jazz standard composed by a jazz musician.
Composition and Monk’s first recording
It is thought that Monk composed the song sometime in 1940 or 1941. However, Harry Colomby claims that Monk may have written an early version around 1936 (at the age of 19). The song was copyrighted September 24, 1943 in C minor under the title “I Need You So”, and included lyrics by Monk himself. The first recording was made by Cootie Williams on August 22, 1944, after the pianist Bud Powell persuaded Williams to record the tune. Monk first recorded the song on November 21, 1947, and later appeared on the Blue Note album Genius of Modern Music: Volume 1, and recorded it several times after that. His first version was transcribed by Lionel Grigson in A Thelonious Monk Study Album (Novello, 1993).
Jazz trumpeters Cootie Williams and Dizzy Gillespie further embellished the song, with songwriter Bernie Hanighen adding his own lyrics. The lyrics were copyrighted November 27, 1944 under the title “Grand Finale”. Both Williams and Hanighen received co-credits for their contributions. The commonly played intro to “‘Round Midnight” was originally composed by Dizzy Gillespie for the end of his arrangement for “I Can’t Get Started“, but later adopted it to the intro for “‘Round Midnight”. Gillespie later reused the arrangement for “I Can’t Get Started”, and recorded it for Birks’ Works and Something Old, Something New.