CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

JazzTimes 10: Great Recordings of “My Funny Valentine”

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

9. Cuong Vu 4-Tet (from Leaps of Faith, Origin, 2010)

If Anthony Braxton, of all people, wasn’t going to mine “My Funny Valentine” for weirdness, it naturally fell to Cuong Vu to do so. Did he, though? Certainly his 4-Tet (with drummer Ted Poor and the two basses of Stomu Takeishi and Luke Bergman) is a highly experimental outfit. As Vu begins his trumpet solo, Takeishi ratchets up the electronic expectorations for which he’s known, ultimately pushing Poor and Bergman into what sounds at first like sonic sabotage. Perhaps it is—but notably, Vu refuses to surrender, holding down a heartfelt lyrical line with such determination that in the end he pulls Poor and Bergman back into his orbit. Bergman then manages the same feat of resistance. Or is it the song that’s resisting? Perhaps the takeaway is that “My Funny Valentine” demands a level of deference from those who would interpret it.

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.