Versions: 'You don't know what love is'/Saxophone Colossus Sonny Rollins (Prestige, 1956)

This is one of my favourite pieces of music (of.all.time) because of the stunning contrast between the ponderous sax and then the other key elements, the moment when the pianist, Tommy Flanagan comes in so quietly, with such gentleness and the percussion section provided by the masterly Max Roach.    

But there is another reason to love this piece of music, for the essential dynamic that is held within the performance of Sonny Rollins; as even though it is carried along by the deep, soulful inflections it often sounds as if, on occasion, he is having a conversation as he plays (as if he is offering asides, or commentary on the essential message). 

Certainly this performance by Miles Davis from his 1954 Walkin' release is special too, as you would expect, but it somehow lacks the intensity of the Rollins' version two years later.

Much the same could be said about Mal Waldron's version from his 1960 record, Left Alone - that while beautiful lacks the emotional rawness that can be felt in the less orderly take on the standard by Sonny Rollins. How then does Chet Baker compare? 

For me, it's only when Nina Simone offers her interpretation that we find some competition; her take, as to be expected, is beyond words and heart-breaking - pure and elemental.