CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

JazzTimes 10: Great Recordings of “My Funny Valentine”

Our favorite renditions of one of jazz’s most-played songs

10. Roy Hargrove Big Band (from Emergence, Groovin’ High, 2009)

The jazz world’s grief over Hargrove’s untimely death won’t be fading anytime soon, so his achingly lovely flugelhorn feature on “My Funny Valentine” (arranged by Max Siegel) deserves some attention. The ensemble backgrounds have a certain querying, mysterious aspect, and when Hargrove begins to improvise he seems caught between offering them answers about the enigmas of romance and having questions of his own. There’s resignation in his tone and a halting articulation when he plays the final A section, as if he doesn’t know but perhaps doesn’t need to. Then again, the apparent sadness here might be our own, as the performance reminds us of the tremendous scale of his loss.

Listen to a Spotify playlist featuring most of the songs in this JazzTimes 10:

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.