Shirley Horn: My Funny Valentine


My Funny Valentine


Shirley Horn (vocals, piano)


I Remember Miles (Verve 314 557 199)

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Shirley Horn (vocals, piano),

Charles Ables (electric bass), Steve Williams (drums)


Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart


Recorded: New York, December 1997


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

While Miles Davis tribute albums are legion, none is more heartfelt than Shirley Horn's I Remember Miles. Horn got one of her first big breaks from Davis in 1961, when the trumpeter insisted that the then-unknown singer open for him at the Village Vanguard. A Davis sketch of the two adorns the cover, and a vintage photo (presumably taken at the Vanguard) appears inside the package. One imagines that those images were in her mind, if not in the studio, as she made this album. Throughout, it's as if Horn is singing directly to her late friend and supporter. Her version of "My Funny Valentine" starts with a stark reading of the bridge before settling into her patented slow groove. As the performance grows in intensity, Horn makes us think about every word, and each melodic variation seems to emphasize the lyric. And when she reaches the word "stay," everything stops so she can make the most out of the last line, repeating it several times to bolster the final point. Perhaps that final word ("stay") was Shirley's wish that Miles— who'd passed away six years before—would never truly leave us.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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