Ruby Braff & Ellis Larkins: My Funny Valentine
My Funny Valentine
Duets, Volume 2 (Vanguard 79611)
Recorded: New York, October 14, 1955
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Because the lyric is gender-specific and character-driven, the verse to "My Funny Valentine" is rarely performed. Yet Ellis Larkins plays it as an introduction to this austere duet version. (Aside from a couple of instrumental recordings featuring Tubby Hayes, I've never heard another recording of the verse.) On this track, Larkins's rubato reading of the verse leads to Ruby Braff's glowing reading of the melody, which is also out of tempo. Braff might have been labeled as a traditionalist, but few musicians could sing through their instrument as he could. When Larkins takes the solo spotlight, he establishes a walking tempo with his beautifully flowing version of stride piano. When Braff comes back, the tempo recedes and disappears, and the cornetist shows his rhapsodic side to close the recording.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe