Ellen Johnson

FORM & formless

Round Midnight

06:23
Ellen Johnson, Larry Koonse & Nolan Shaheed
06/09/2015
Thelonious Monk

Story

I learned this song in the mid 1970’s and it’s always been one of my favorite jazz ballads. Chicago jazz pianist and educator Willie Pickens whom I was fortunate enough to study with in an instrumental jazz ensemble introduced me to this song. As the only vocalist in the ensemble I sat in the horn section and learned all the tunes not knowing many of them had lyrics. Then I heard Betty Carter sing it with lyrics by Babs Gonzales and fell in love with that version. During the session the engineer Nolan Shaheed had his horn and he was improvising before we began recording. It suddenly occurred to me that his horn would be a beautiful addition to the song and we spontaneously traded 4’s in the solo section becoming a musical conversation I’ll never forget.