Sonny Rollins: You Don't Know What Love Is

From the moment Rollins barks out the opening note of his unaccompanied intro, the listener understands that this won't be your typical melancholy love ballad. The tenorist roughs up this tune with a muscular performance that befits a saxophone colossus. Moments of tenderness bubble up from time to time, but before long some angular phrase or barrage of notes or honk in the low register will assert its mantra of tough love. Rollins's solo is commanding, and Flanagan finds himself (as on his "Giant Steps" outing with Coltrane some time later) left to clean up the battlefield after the general has departed. For those who want a smoother, more sentimental ballad, Rollins has announced: "You don't know what love is."

May 10, 2008 · 0 comments

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Dinah Washington: You Don't Know What Love Is

Though she tends to take a backseat to Lady Day and Sassy in most jazz criticism, it’s difficult to find anything to criticize on Dinah Washington’s 1955 session for Norman Granz. Washington’s delivery, while every bit as knowing as Holiday’s, emerges from a place of confidence and resilience rather than fragility and despair. Supported by Galbraith’s solo guitar work on the opening lines and thereafter by Quincy Jones’ arrangement of an all-star horn section, with a wonderful solo by Jimmy Cleveland, Dinah delivers a hopefully defiant interpretation of this Raye-DePaul standard, belying an undercurrent of raw emotion that tells the listener she knows exactly what love—and jazz—is.

December 22, 2007 · 1 comment

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Mark Murphy: Skylark / You Don't Know What Love Is

How many singers have performed at this high level in their seventies? Aspiring jazz vocalists should not just listen to this recording - they need to study it. There is not a single facile or uninspired phrase in this six-and-a-half minute performance. Murphy floats behind the beat or hurries ahead; he bends the notes both ways, and measures the tolerances in microns. He coos and whispers and even howls, crazy like a loon; sometimes sighing sweetly, like a nightingale serenading the moon. And though you will marvel at the vocal, don't ignore producer Till Brönner, a trumpeter and flugelhornist of real distinction. Even if (like me) you already own a stack of Murphy CDs, find a place in your collection for this release.

October 31, 2007 · 0 comments

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Cassandra Wilson: You Don’t Know What Love Is

Cassandra Wilson’s ascension to successful musical iconoclast may trouble those who belabor the question of what is jazz, but that’s another discussion. Wilson’s evolving style works for me, and Brandon Ross’s arrangement of this Raye/DePaul standard is stark and deep. Elements of folk and blues are certainly here, but so are the chords and lyrics to one of the darkest of jazz tunes. Just hearing this evokes the spirit of Lady Day, and while Wilson has a unique sound, I do hear a little Betty Carter in this performance.

October 25, 2007 · 0 comments

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Chucho Valdez: You Don’t Know What Love Is

As one of the most seminal figures in Latin jazz, pianist Jesus “Chucho” Valdes has been at the forefront of Latin American music innovation for over forty years. A founding member of Irakere, Valdes is one of three in a family of Cuban pianists (along with his father, Bebo, and son, “Chuchito”). This Blue Note album features reinterpretations of Cuban and American jazz standards. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” is arranged as a mambo, layered with polyrhythms and showcasing Valdes’s pianistic talent, along with an alto saxophone solo by Roman Filiu O'Reilly. Even the definition of mambo is challenged as the group settles into a funk-rock groove as the track progresses.

October 25, 2007 · 0 comments

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