Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Funny Valentine

Jazz legend has it that Lorenz Hart wrote these disparaging remarks as a love song to himself, feeling somewhat inadequate in the looks department but embracing it at the same time:
Your looks are laughable, un-photographable.
Yet you're my favourite work of art.

I heard this story about the song at an Intro to Jazz seminar hosted by Jazz FM 91 for its regular donors. Rob and I went together and learned a bit more about jazz... Something I keep learning regardless of the subject is the more you know, the more you don't know...

One of the topics reinforced was just how central improvisation is to jazz.  Heather Bambrick, one of the presenters, said she tells her students to never play or sing it the same way twice.  Take the harmony and re-harmonize, stretch the melody, add notes, subtract notes.  Spontaneity is key.  A true great like Ella Fitzgerald truly never performs the same song twice.

Right now I'm listening to some of the different artists and interpretations of 'My Funny Valentine' on You Tube and reading the lyrics. First performed in 1937 it has since become a jazz standard recorded by well over 600 artists.  Etta James, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, and even Matt Damon all have memorable recordings, but  here are two of my favourites: 

Sting and Chris Botti's version is a great jazz interpretation and they play off Trudi in the audience to add a whole new flavour:

Chet Baker, so achingly sad and tender:

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