Stan Getz & J.J. Johnson: My Funny Valentine

Back in the 1950s, some still thought that Stan Getz was a lightweight "cool school" player, and that J.J. Johnson's incredible fluidity could only mean that he, like Bob Brookmeyer, played a valve trombone. Those so misguided would have seen and heard differently if they had attended this 1957 Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Chicago.

"My Funny Valentine" starts with Getz and Johnson engaging in inventive counterpoint, while alternating on the theme. Getz has the first solo, basically silky smooth of tone, but deceptively so as his swift boppish runs are executed with an added bite. As Brown's resonant and forceful bassline propels him along, Getz uses exclamatory riffs, jabbing lower-register notes, and subtle alterations of reiterated phrases to flesh out a masterfully structured improvisation. Johnson's solo has a noticeably similar construction, also effectively relying on variations to repeated phrases. With a distinctive buzz to his timbre, as well as his utilization of expressive slurs and blats for coloration, Johnson's overall combination of power, dexterity and creativity is lethal. Getz and Johnson then improvise once again in tandem, a delightful intertwining that gradually returns to the melody and finally to a declarative ending evocative of a bugle call.

May 21, 2008 · 0 comments


Keith Jarrett: My Funny Valentine

Keith Jarrett's membership on the Jazz Messengers alumni roll may surprise some, yet in January 1966, Art Blakey assembled what must be considered one of his most unusual groups, featuring himself, Jarrett, trumpeter Chuck Mangione, tenor saxophonist Frank Mitchell and bassist Reggie Workman. The results can be heard on the CD Buttercorn Lady. Following his short stint with Blakey, Jarrett moved on to become a regular member of Charles Lloyd's group, and shortly thereafter began his career as a bandleader. His legendary trio performances with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette (the latter of whom also performed in Lloyd's group) is presented here in all of its interactive glory while weaving in and out of the standard of all standards, "My Funny Valentine."

March 06, 2008 · 0 comments


Gonzalo Rubalcaba: My Funny Valentine

This is a meditative reading by a 23-year-old pianist whose international career hadn't yet started. Rubalcaba is not totally fluent with the melody and seems not to take account of the meaning of the words. But he has such poetic sensitivity, and his triple background on the piano (classical, Cuban and jazz) gives him such a beautiful touch and phrasing, that one hears these qualities more than a few flaws. Rubalcaba has since become the grand pianist we know today, but it's moving to hear him in his budding period and to discover how much of his future self was already there.

February 12, 2008 · 0 comments


Enrico Pieranunzi: My Funny Valentine

It will take more than a minute before Pieranunzi and his U.S. partners play the theme of this song, taken at higher than usual speed. Before that, they toy around with bits of the melody and with the harmony while building a highly romantic atmosphere. Refined piano phrasing, subtle cymbal touch and supple basslines weave a strong and delicate network around the theme before it is exposed, then diluted again during the improvisation process. Some will see here Bill Evans's influence on Pieranunzi. Others will remember that the Italian pianist had also been a companion of Chet Baker, one of the all-time greatest suitors of "Funny Valentine."

January 28, 2008 · 0 comments


Ron Carter: My Funny Valentine

How many different ways can a bass player handle a ballad in 4/4 time? Listen to this track and you will find Ron Carter demonstrating most of them. Scott plays admirably, but Carter steals the show with his feints and jabs, and the sheer creativity of his lines. More than one thousand jazz versions of "My Funny Valentine" have been recorded over the years -- including a classic Miles Davis performance at Lincoln Center in 1964 with Ron Carter in the band. But this new-millennium ensemble ignores the weight of history, and dishes out a fresh performance that both brings the standard up to date but also respects the mood of the Richard Rodgers original.

November 29, 2007 · 1 comment


Bill Evans & Jim Hall: My Funny Valentine

Bill Evans and Jim Hall set the standard for duo playing with the release of Undercurrent. More than four decades later, their understated masterpiece continues to astound with its unadorned beauty. In contrast to the ballads that follow, “My Funny Valentine” is taken at a surprisingly brisk tempo and features some of the most exciting playing on the disc. Evans states the melody before providing a syncopated pulse for Hall’s snaking lines. The guitarist reciprocates by strumming infectiously swinging rhythms behind Evans, whose palpable effervescence is carried over into Hall’s buoyant restatement of the melody.

November 11, 2007 · 0 comments


Chet Baker: My Funny Valentine (1952)

Trumpeter Chet Baker was and will forever be the poster boy for West Coast cool jazz. His introverted, plaintive tone and relaxed, lyrical style was strikingly different from his fiery contemporaries such as Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. Baker’s treatment of “My Funny Valentine,” painfully romantic and hauntingly beautiful, thrust him atop the trumpet polls in 1952. His humble interpretation of the melody creates an extraordinarily intimate atmosphere, compelling listeners to hold their breath in fear of creating the slightest disturbance. One of the most captivating and magical ballad performances in all of jazz.

October 24, 2007 · 0 comments


Previous Page | Next Page