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Revelatory covers (4th in series): “My One and Only Love”

This “iconic” ballad began life as Music from Beyond the Moon – a 1947 flop. Retitled in 1952, it became famous in 1953, thanks to Frank Sinatra. The “iconic” version was sung in 1963 by Johnny Hartman on John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. However, the loveliest version is an instrumental duet, recorded in 1989. One man – not ‘Trane, not Hartman – was common to both recordings.

Guy Wood’s extraordinarily beautiful melody is the reason the song is so widely loved, most especially by improvising saxophonists.

Its unfortunate original title – with lyrics by Robert Mellin – initially thwarted it, but once renamed – with new lyrics by Jack Lawrence – My One and Only Love became an inevitable “standard”.

As Wikipedia notes, a great many jazz instrumentalists have covered it, as have not a few singers.

As Wikipedia states, the aforementioned collaboration between saxophonist John Coltrane and vocalist Johnny Hartman is “the probably most favoured version”.

Bizarrely – in a list of 41 covers – Wikipedia omits the most glorious of the several hundred versions I have heard. (although another, more discriminating source does include it among 10 “recommended”)

McCoy Tyner was pianist on the “iconic”/”most favoured” version.

More than a quarter of a century later, on November 2, 1989, McCoy Tyner and George Adams – much less “iconic” than ‘Trane, but also a great, short-lived tenor saxophonist – recorded this:


If ever again subjected to the received opinion/nonsense that “ballads are not McCoy Tyner’s forte”  (as I have, on a number of occasions, over the past four decades) I would refrain from the obvious riposte – “guess who played piano on John Coltrane’s Ballads and on John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman?”

Better, I think, to try to arrange a “blindfold” encounter with this duet – one of the more sublime I have ever heard.

In this household it is probably the most oft-played single cut, ever; the album as a whole is good, but as a whole album McCoy Tyner’s Things Ain’t What They Used To Be would not make my personal “top 500”, nor even my “top 5 Tyners”.  That said, this single cut has brought me more joy than have all but a handful of whole albums.

Still available, manufactured on demand.


Published in 'western' musics instrumental music music


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