6. Ella Fitzgerald (from Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book, Verve, 1956)
Of course Ella’s version was going to be flawless. Part of the second entry in her celebrated Song Book series, “My Funny Valentine” places her in front of a truly treacly studio orchestra (arranged by Buddy Bregman) that seems ready at first to steamroll the invention out of Fitzgerald. It doesn’t: She’s already taking melodic liberties by the second line. Come the bridge, she shows her mastery of the melodrama Bregman has put behind her; come its repeat, she is bending it to her will. Fitzgerald’s version is highly unusual in a technical sense. “My Funny Valentine” is pretty much always recorded in either C minor or B minor, but she sings it in G minor. It’s a blessing in its distinction, but that also keeps hers from being the definitive interpretation.