Interpreting a melody - My Funny Valentine (part 3)

After getting the ball rolling with three worked-out versions of the first eight bars of My Funny Valentine, and then looking at how three singers performed them, it was only natural to find three great instrumental versions to look at.  Keep in mind that this is the first time the melody is being stated in the performance- although with a song like this there is a lot of familiarity with the original on the part of both listener and performer.

Sonny Stitt - from a Quincy Jones' collection.  It was really hard to notate precisely the flourishes in his playing.  In measure 5 I used triplets but really he just pushes the melody a little ahead or behind the beat.  This is made easier by a rock solid pulse from the band behind him.  He takes off in m.7 but then checks back in with the band for the final eighth notes of the phrase.  Here is the audio.

Fred Hersch - from his record Dancing in the Dark- a straight eighth version that often disguises where the barline is.  The chord symbols don't do justice to the subtle voice leading that is happening in the left hand comping part, but they give a general idea.  Click here for the clip of the first eight bars of the melody.

Miles Davis - known for this tune, this version is from the 1965 Plugged Nickel collection.  The pauses are almost uncomfortably long, it's amazing to hear the audience get a little restless in there.  Sometimes when people refer to Miles' mastery of silence I think what they should maybe say instead is his patience and use of rests in tension/resolution.  Also how about that chord Herbie arpeggiates in the fourth bar?  I love this whole collection, here is just eight bars.

Leave a comment

Add comment