Paul Desmond: My Funny Valentine


My Funny Valentine


Paul Desmond (alto sax)


The Paul Desmond Quartet Live (Verve 314 543 501)

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Paul Desmond (alto sax), Ed Bickert (guitar), Don Thompson (bass), Jerry Fuller (drums).

Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart


Recorded: live at Bourbon Street, Toronto, Canada, October-November 1975


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Sometimes I'm amazed at the good music I found in my high school days when I was just starting to learn about jazz. I bought this double-LP set when it first came out, and instantly fell in love with this version of "My Funny Valentine." Thirty-four years later, it still makes my heart flutter. Not even the Miles Davis versions (1956 and 1964) eclipse this one for establishing and maintaining mood. Desmond's tender reading of the melody and impassioned solo, Bickert's understated comping, Thompson's active (but always nuanced) counterpoint and Fuller's glorious brushwork are all part of the mix, but there's more than the ingredients at play. These were musicians who understood each other and instinctively knew what to play in order to make this performance greater than the sum of its parts. And as is true with much of Desmond's solo work, it's all so quiet and understated that you could just lose yourself in the music and miss all that happened.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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  • 1 Ted Gioia // Feb 12, 2009 at 04:21 PM
    One of my favorite recordings.