CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

JazzTimes 10: Great Recordings of “My Funny Valentine”

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

5. Larry Young (from Heaven on Earth, Blue Note, 1968)

Larry Young is best known for his departure from the funky hard-bop school of jazz organ—the Jimmy Smith school. But Heaven on Earth finds him creeping back into that school, particularly with a young guitarist named George Benson putting the stank on it. Still, “My Funny Valentine” (with Benson and drummer Eddie Gladden as the rhythm section) avoids convention thanks to Young’s spooky quiet bass lines and the soaring vocals of his wife Althea Young, who brings a celestial presence to the tune. Her voice is untrained and a little overeager but remarkably supple, and her choice to add “’Cause you’re” before the title line adds a certain level of intrigue: What’s the “why” question she’s answering with the Lorenz Hart lyric?

Originally Published

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.