My Funny Valentine is a song originally published in 1937 with music from Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Lorenz Hart.
"My Funny Valentine", along with "The Lady is a Tramp," became the signature tune for the 1937 musical Babes in Arms.
Ordinarily I am a fan of pop standards when performed as an instrumentals, particularly when adapted to a jazz setting.
I consider the Miles Davis rendition to be the definitive instrumental rendition, I do enjoy the Frank Sinatra vocal version as well, but:
I have come to the conclusion that the following version from Chet Baker released in 1954 is the definitive rendition: Baker has a vocal delivery that fits the mood perfectly, void of sentimentality. A trumpet style that blends perfectly with his vocals. Hear it for yourself...
Chet Baker was all of 24 years old when he recorded this vocal masterpiece.
The detractors will point to the James Dean good looks as the main reason for his early popularity. That may indeed be true, but that sells this man's unique and original singing style short.
Yeah he lifted a lot of Miles Davis' trumpet sound, and that irritated Miles to no end. Personally I think that's a little overblown, I find Baker's instrumental and vocal style irresistible.
Chet really was a solid trumpeter, in fact his 70's and 80's comeback proves that he advanced far greater than one might think, his early 50's style was very much similar to the stark vulnerable sound of Miles Davis, by the 60's though he had his own sound.
Chet's heroin addiction saw to it that he would never quite fulfill that original promise. If you are a fan of Chet, no doubt you have grown to appreciate his later performances, as his weathered, beaten, and nearly broken physical appearance display for all to see every wrong turn he ever made in his life.
Chet Baker died in 1988 after a fall from his Amsterdam hotel room in The Netherlands. Heroin and cocaine were found both in his room and his blood stream, the death was ruled an accident. Though many insiders have their doubts about it being accidental.
This live rendition from Tokyo Japan is also a fantastic later day performance of My Funny Valentine that shows Chet in great vocal and playing form, his soloing is strong and full of life. Chet would be gone just a year later.
Intro Photo: Courtesy of Amazon.com