Roland Hanna - Jazz Pianist

I have a favorite song, A Child Is Born, with music credited to Thad Jones and Lyrics by Alec Wilder.

Now, out of the night Soft as the dawn Into the light This Child Innocent Child Soft as a fawn This Child is born One small heart One pair of eyes One work of art Here in my arms Here he lies Trusting and warm Blessed this morn A Child is born

The song is often sung at the winter holiday season although
I have learned that Wilder never intended the lyric to have a
seasonal reference. For me, both the melody and lyrics fall into the
category of being unforgettable almost from the first few notes.

Here is one of my favorite recordings of the song...

A Child Is Born - Tony Bennett and Bill Evans

And the original by Thad Jones...

I’ve been listening to these recordings for years and always believed that Thad Jones was the composer. And, then I ran into this page on WIKI...

A Child Is Born (jazz standard)

from that article...

Jazz historian Mark Stryker, in his book Jazz from Detroit, provides the following account of the writing of "A Child Is Born" (see below) and have since hunted down everything I can on Roland Hanna. Anyone have any Hanna recordings to recommend?

An intriguing twist to [Roland Hanna and Thad Jones’] relationship is that Hanna almost certainly composed “A Child Is Born,” the gentle waltz credited to Jones and his most- covered song. (Alec Wilder even wrote lyrics to it.) The precious melody unfolds in simple quarter notes and dotted half notes and sounds nothing like Jones— there’s no syncopation— and everything like Hanna’s Romanticism. David Berger, who was at the Village Vanguard for most of the band’s gigs in the early years, remembers Hanna developing the song over many weeks during his improvised solo features; Jones showed up one night with a full- band arrangement of what Hanna had been playing. Hanna confirms this story in his Fillius Jazz Archive interview. He doesn’t mention the song by name, but it could only be “A Child Is Born.”

“I said, ‘Thad, isn’t that my tune?’ He said, ‘No, it’s mine.’” Hanna chuckled as he recounted the story. If there were ever any hard feelings, he appears to have let them go. He excuses Jones’ pilfering as akin to Ellington appropriating melodies improvised by his sidemen. “I never faulted [Thad] for that because he was just doing what bandleaders did,” Hanna said. “If you throw an idea out there, he’d take it and write it down.”

Hanna never contested Jones’ authorship publicly, but he told friends privately that he wrote the song. “I gifted it to Thad” is how he put it to pianist Michael Weiss.[3]


Given his Detroit jazz roots from that era I wonder if Barry Harris ever recorded “A Child Is Born” . He’d surely do it justice.



This music must sound divine via the Unison amplifier and Franco Serblin speaker pairing. 

You’re welcome, Charles; glad you liked it.  Great iteration of an iconic big band still going strong at the Village Vanguard.  The reed section alone!  Jerome Richardson, Jerry Dodgion, Joe Henderson, Eddie Daniels and Pepper Adams!  


Indeed a stellar reed section. My introduction to “ A Child Is Born “ was on a live recorded CD of Pepper Adams.



Have just ordered your recommendations. Many thanks.



Thanks for the introduction to Pepper Adams. BTW - one of my friends near the end of his life was Tommy McCook - the tenor titan (ska) - unfortunately I never got to hear him play.