Gerry Mulligan: My Funny Valentine (1953)


My Funny Valentine (1953)


Chet Baker (with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet)


Original Quartet With Chet Baker (Blue Note/Pacific Jazz 94407)

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Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax), Chet Baker (trumpet), Carson Smith (bass), Larry Bunker (drums).

Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart


Recorded: live at The Haig, Los Angeles, CA, May 20, 1953


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

While Chet Baker was widely known for his vocal versions of "My Funny Valentine," he first recorded the song as a trumpet feature with the original Gerry Mulligan Quartet. Both the Fantasy and Pacific Jazz versions were recorded live, but the Pacific Jazz is the longer and better take. Bunker's opening tom-tom roll announces a dramatic start, and suddenly it is only Baker with Smith's spare bass backing. But listen again, and faintly in the background are the unison singing voices of Mulligan, Smith and Bunker! Baker's plaintive solo displays his natural sense of melody and phrasing. He says so much with the simplicity of his ideas and the burnished sound of his horn. Mulligan was a superb ballad player as well, and his more complex solo acts as a fine counterpoint to Baker's statement. And this time, Baker leads the vocal background, which in keeping with Mulligan's multi-noted solo is more intricate than the backgrounds for the trumpet solo.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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