Chet Baker: “My Funny Valentine”

From now until Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing some of our picks to get you in the mood.  Last time, we told you about “Our Love Is Easy” by Melody Gardot. Now, we’re giving you a jazz standard.

 

Chet Baker

“My Funny Valentine”

 

My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine

You make me smile with my heart

Your looks are laughable

Unphotographable

Yet you’re my favorite work of art

 

Of course, this made the list.  C’mon, you can’t have Valentine’s Day without it!  The funny thing about it is that “My Funny Valentine” started as a show tune written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart back in 1937, and it was introduced by child star, Mitzi Green.  It’s since become a popular jazz standard and has been performed by more than 600 artists. Baker was able to turn the tune into a jazz classic when he recorded an instrumental version with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in 1952, and then a haunting vocal version in 1956.  He then would go on to revisit the song a number of times throughout his career.

Chesney Henry Baker Jr., or Chet Baker, was known for the melancholic, fragile tone of his trumpet playing and singing.  He began playing the trumpet at 10 and later went on to play in Army bands while he was a soldier.  During the 50s, he played with Charlie Parker and joined Gerry Mulligan’s quartet in 1952.

In 1954, Baker beat out Miles Davis and many others to win the Downbeat Jazz Poll. Over the next few years, Baker was a frontman for his own combo He played trumpet and sang.  Baker’s good looks, vibratoless, soft tenor voice and cool vibe pretty much put him on the fast track.  But his personal struggles would end up taking a toll on his career.

Despite the troubles, it’s been said that the period between 1977 and 1988 were Baker’s most prolific musical years.  He’s pretty much an icon for the “cool school” style of jazz.

What’s your favorite song for Valentine’s Day?  Let us know in the comments.