By Robert Willmann
Celebrated in some parts of the world, today is another positive expression from the Christian tradition, known as Saint Valentine's Day, and is illustrated above in a drawing from 1861 in Harper's Weekly . Fondness, affection, and love do give hope to the human condition, along with music — the international language. So, here are a couple of songs for this day.
"My Funny Valentine", appearing in 1937 for the musical Babes in Arms, is now a jazz classic, and was selected in 2014 to be in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, with this description –
" 'My Funny Valentine.' The Gerry Mulligan Quartet featuring Chet Baker (1953)
Their studio recording of 'My Funny Valentine' had been a hit for the pianoless Gerry Mulligan Quartet in the autumn of 1952, so it was an established part of their repertoire when this May 20, 1953 live performance was recorded by producer Dick Bock at The Haig jazz club in Hollywood, California. At over five minutes, nearly twice as long as the single, trumpeter Chet Baker and baritone saxophonist Mulligan had room to stretch out. The result is a darker, more expressive version of 'My Funny Valentine,' propelled by a Carson Smith bass line that's simple, but insistent, almost ominous. The popularity of this 1952 studio version may have helped to keep this performance in the vault until the 1960s, but, for many, this extended version has become the definitive Mulligan and Baker collaboration for many."
With an almost haunting melody, but with lyrics showing the strength of real affection and support, here is a recording by Julie London–
Chet Baker performed this signature song during his career, and produced an extended and beautiful version in a concert in Tokyo, Japan–
And as a finale, there is nothing better than the Rockettes! Here they are with Peter Allen, because: Everything Old Is New Again–