Archive for My Funny Valentine

My Funny (and very sad) Valentine

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on February 14, 2013 by telescoper

I suppose I should make some concession to Valentine’s Day, so here’s the classic 1954 Chet Baker version of the Rodgers & Hart tune My Funny Valentine. This was a big hit during the period when jazz switched from the frenetic pace and jagged angularity of bebop to the smooth cocktail bar sounds of the Cool School; its popularity owed as much to Baker’s youthful good looks and attractive singing voice as to the trumpet solo on this recording.

But that was 1954. A lifelong addiction to heroin exacted a terrible toll on Chet Baker. Here’s a harrowing and heart-rending reprise of My Funny Valentine recorded, just a year before his death, at a concert in Tokyo in 1987.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

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My Funny Valentines

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by telescoper

I’m not really into all this St Valentine’s Day nonsense (meaning: “I never get any cards”), but at least it provides me with an excuse to post three versions of the great Rogers & Hart ballad  My Funny Valentine.

The first is by the great Miles Davis Quintet featuring Miles Davis on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter bass and Tony Williams on drums. This was recorded live in Milan on October 11th 1964. There’s a slight distortion in the sound in the form of a pre-echo, which is a bit eery, but I still think it’s a marvellous performance.

And if Miles Davis isn’t your cup of tea, here is something completely different. It’s by Julie London, but very late in her career in 1981 when she was 55. Her voice was much smoother in her heyday in the 1960s, but I love the smokey sound of this very characterful rendition. By ear I’d say the bass player on this is Ray Brown and the guitar is Barney Kessel, both of whom (like Julie London herself) are no longer with us.

Last one up is a miracle of joint improvisation between the great Bill Evans on piano and Jim Hall on guitar, the sort of music that mere mortals can only dream of…