John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman: My One and Only Love

Marketing considerations spurred the pairing of John Coltrane with a vocalist, and the precedents here were not promising. Anyone who remembers Charlie Parker's collaborations with Earl Coleman (whose singing is similar to Hartman's), knows that progressive saxophony and baritone balladry don't always mix. But, against all odds, this pairing not only succeeded but resulted in one of Coltrane's most popular and artistically successful albums. Thousands of saxophonists have played this song, but this will always be the definitive version for most jazz fans. Hartman never sounded better, and Trane offers one of his most heartfelt performances. This is track to share with your friends who are sure that they don't like jazz.

August 07, 2009 · 0 comments

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Charlie Ventura: My One and Only Love

This is a song every tenor sax player is expected to know nowadays, but Charlie Ventura was the first tenorist to record it as an instrumental ballad back in 1953. The icky sweet orchestral support on this track has not aged well, but Ventura sounds in top form. His opening melody statement is firm and stately, and very much out of the Coleman Hawkins camp, but his solo makes me think Ventura had been spending his early autumn checking out Stan Getz. The coda, in particular, is exquisite in a Four-Brothers-ish sort of way.

This artist, who was working in a shipyard when he was discovered by Gene Krupa in 1942 and three years later won the Downbeat poll on tenor sax, has been largely forgotten by the current generation of jazz fans. But he was a skilled and versatile soloist—Ventura was one of the first Swing Era stars to embrace bop—and deserves a better fate than benign neglect. Sometime, somewhere, when a tenor saxophonist launches into this song, let it be dedicated to Mr. Ventura.

August 07, 2009 · 0 comments

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Chick Corea: My One and Only Love

This track comes from my favorite Chick Corea session, which incredibly was awarded NO stars in a Downbeat review soon after it was released in the late 60’s. History, however, has proved this to be one of the greatest piano trio recordings of the past fifty years.

This track wasn’t included on the initial LP release, but appears on subsequent CD releases. It’s the most beautiful version of this tune I’ve ever heard. Taken more up-tempo than usual, it contains elegant, joyous, interactive playing by Chick, Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes.

April 07, 2009 · 0 comments

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Frank Catalano: My One and Only Love

If there were any more blood and grit in Frank Catalano's sax tone, they would need to send it to the M.A.S.H. unit for cleansing and dressing. This track starts with an Ayler-esque scream and finishes with a very astringent coda. In between, you will find many shrieks and growls and—yes!—quite a bit of raw soulfulness. The rhythm section bounces along from the opening measure, making you think they would rather be playing anything except a ballad. But the saxophonist hardly minds, since he had no intention of getting blue and sentimental. Many tenor legends have tackled this song before, but none of them has quite slapped it around the way Catalano does. Listen to it while you can—he may get a restraining order tomorrow.

December 02, 2008 · 2 comments

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Horace Silver featuring Hank Mobley: My One and Only Love

Horace Silver, the first in a long line of legendary Jazz Messenger pianists, performed on many of the famous early Art Blakey collaborations with trumpeters Clifford Brown and Kenny Dorham in 1954 and '55. Upon leaving the group shortly thereafter, Silver's reputation as one of the great hard-bop composers was solidified through his consistently swinging Blue Note recordings. On this album of mostly Silver originals, the sole cover choice is an inspired version of the standard "My One and Only Love." Note Silver's expressive (yet traditional) interpretation of the melody and the double-time tenor work of Hank Mobley, a fellow Blakey alum.

March 06, 2008 · 0 comments

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John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman: My One and Only Love

Early 1963 marked a tumultuous time in the U.S., especially in Alabama. First, new Governor George Wallace seized the moral low ground, vowing: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" Then sit-ins began in Birmingham, culminating in Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and Sheriff Bull Connor siccing police dogs on demonstrators. Amidst this turbulence, Coltrane & Hartman's 5-minute ballad of "sweet surrender" became an island of sanity in a deranged sea. It was a refuge that Coltrane himself would soon abandon, but for one brief moment the stillness, "like an April breeze on the wings of spring," was a welcome respite. So it remains.

December 07, 2007 · 0 comments

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Joshua Redman: My One and Only Love

Sinatra's 1953 recording established this song as a pop standard, and Coltrane's version with Johnny Hartman enshrined it as a much cherished tenor sax ballad. Since then, everyone from Michael Brecker to Sonny Rollins has shown off their chops on these changes. Big shoes to fill, but Redman makes his mark on this exceptional performance, captured live at the Village Vanguard in 1995. He has the audience ooh-ing and ah-ing from his very first phrase, and keeps them mesmerized until the conclusion of his tour de force coda. So many great saxophone performances have graced the Village Vanguard over the years, but this still has to be among the very best.

November 29, 2007 · 0 comments

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