Chasing the Thrill: Miles Davis ‘Round About Midnight Vinyl

[The Chasing the Thrill posts chronicle my adventures in trying to capture that ephemeral moment when song and audio fidelity come together into a sound that makes me forget everything else. Mostly it will be my notes on the vinyl that I listen to, but may include some non-vinyl music moments as well. If you’re interested in the set up I use to listen on, here it is.]

 

round about midnight front

 

Like Rumours, which I recently wrote about, there’s not much that need be said about ‘Round About Midnight. It is as exciting to hear today as it was when released in 1956. If you’re unfamiliar with the record, one way to approach it is to just focus on an individual instrument for an entire song, and then switch your focus to another instrument. In this way you not only hear the performance, but also the harmonic cohesiveness that resounds throughout this record.

This listening approach is made easier by the fact that unlike many quintet records released up to this point — in particular, those performing hard bop — there is a surprisingly little amount of simultaneous playing between Miles and Coltrane (“Ah-Leu-Cha” being the brilliant exception).

Because of this emphasis on individual (but unified) parts, and because those who are playing these parts are other-worldly talents, what results is a recording that not only rewards repeated listening (and I’m not talking about ten or twelve times; rather, a lifetime), but demands it.

Listening with your eyes closed to this recording on the very fine 2011 vinyl release by Not Now Music will teach you things about yourself. (I purchased it from the very excellent Ernie B, which, prior to my buying vinyl again, I would purchase a lot of dub CDs from – glad to see him rolling with the times).

This double vinyl gatefold set includes the original release on the first disc, and the six songs originally recorded with what was then dubbed “The New Miles Davis Quintet” on the second. Both discs sound utterly fantastic, but what really resonates for me is the bass presence. Certainly, Paul Chambers is a master, but I had never before heard the resonance of his tone quite as I do on this release. Similarly, Red Garland’s “block key” piano playing takes on a more nuanced dimension to my ears on this release.

 

round about midnight inner sleve

Nice packaging too. I’d never seen the large photo of Miles that graces the inside of the gatefold.

9.5 out of 10.

 

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