Stan Getz & J.J. Johnson: My Funny Valentine
My Funny Valentine
At the Opera House (Verve 831272)
Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart.
Recorded: live at the Civic Opera House, Chicago, IL, September 29, 1957
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Back in the 1950s, some still thought that Stan Getz was a lightweight "cool school" player, and that J.J. Johnson's incredible fluidity could only mean that he, like Bob Brookmeyer, played a valve trombone. Those so misguided would have seen and heard differently if they had attended this 1957 Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Chicago.
"My Funny Valentine" starts with Getz and Johnson engaging in inventive counterpoint, while alternating on the theme. Getz has the first solo, basically silky smooth of tone, but deceptively so as his swift boppish runs are executed with an added bite. As Brown's resonant and forceful bassline propels him along, Getz uses exclamatory riffs, jabbing lower-register notes, and subtle alterations of reiterated phrases to flesh out a masterfully structured improvisation. Johnson's solo has a noticeably similar construction, also effectively relying on variations to repeated phrases. With a distinctive buzz to his timbre, as well as his utilization of expressive slurs and blats for coloration, Johnson's overall combination of power, dexterity and creativity is lethal. Getz and Johnson then improvise once again in tandem, a delightful intertwining that gradually returns to the melody and finally to a declarative ending evocative of a bugle call.
Reviewer: Scott Albin