JazzTimes 10: Great Recordings of “My Funny Valentine”

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


8. Anthony Braxton (from In the Tradition, Vol. 2, SteepleChase, 1974)

Certain avant-gardists delight in subverting the standard repertoire, but they’ve shied away from “My Funny Valentine.” When Anthony Braxton finally tackled the tune in ’74, it was he who got subverted. Actually, Braxton’s appearance on this session with pianist Tete Montoliu, bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, and drummer Tootie Heath was a subbing gig: It was supposed to be a Dexter Gordon date. Braxton instead surprised everyone with his restrained lyricism and natural swing (all those things that avant-garde musicians were supposedly compensating for not being able to pull off), staying right in step with the band. At the same time, though, his penchant for mathematical logic and abstraction is intact in the progression of his solo.

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.