Miles Davis: My Funny Valentine (1956)


My Funny Valentine (1956)


Miles Davis (trumpet)


Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige/OJC 128)

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Miles Davis (trumpet), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums).

Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart


Recorded: Hackensack, NJ, October 26, 1956


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Miles's first recording of "My Funny Valentine" was made at the end of a marathon session designed to complete his contract with Prestige Records. All the music on the Cookin' / Relaxin' / Workin' / Steamin' sessions was part of his quintet's working repertoire, and every issued recording from the sessions was a first take. Despite this casual approach to posterity, Miles's quintet turned out one masterpiece after another, capped by this version of the Rodgers & Hart standard. With the benefit of hindsight, we know how Miles eventually transformed "Valentine," but the Prestige version was not simply a reference point. Indeed, had Miles never performed the song again, the Prestige version would still be one of the great jazz classics.

Miles's fragile muted trumpet invokes the unheard lyrics even as he moves away from the melody. Paul Chambers's bass dances along in obbligato, offsetting Miles's melancholy. And as Red Garland's joyful piano solo takes the spotlight, Philly Joe Jones lifts the performance with a subtle move to double-time. As with Miles's later versions, what amazes is what's not there: while John Coltrane might have provided a remarkable contrast to Miles's statement here, Miles must have felt that the performance was better balanced without him, and consequently this track is the only one on the first session where Coltrane sits out.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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