Long a jazz standard, the beautiful song "My Funny Valentine," which originally was unveiled to the world as a show tune in the 1937 Broadway musical Babes In Arms by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, has remained a most popular song for musicians, especially vocalists, to cover ever since-- the song has reportedly appeared on over 1300 albums to date, and still counting.
Artists who have covered the song over the years include Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Costello, Nico, Rufus Wainwright, Sarah Vaughan, Chuck Mangione, Chaka Khan, Stan Getz, Dolly Parton, Chet Baker (who scored the first major hit with the song), Miles Davis (who in 1964 released the live album My Funny Valentine recorded at a concert at Lincoln Center, NYC), Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Van Morrison (off his 1994 LP A Night In San Francisco), Carly Simon, and Etta James (Kanye West sampled her version on the song "Addiction" on his album Late Registration).
Although the song was first performed in 1937 in Babes In Arms on Broadway, where it ran for an impressive 289 performances, it wouldn't be recorded for another 8 years when the first record release of the song by Hal McIntyre with vocals by Ruth Gaylor briefly charted in 1945.
I recently remembered some tricks of the trade, so to speak, dwelling in my fever shucked head. Here is some new artwork for the singles boxes from Amoeba Hollywood’s world of 45-rpm-7-inch little-records-with-the big-holes. Though it wasn’t the intention, these arty little boxes seem to work in the same vein as a flame mesmerizes the moth; seduction by the bright light of desire, a glint of reckless narcissism, the corporeal flicker of vinyl nuggets -- the need to touch, commune, possess ... OK, I know, that’s horrifically over stated, but god knows I’m not the only one who has spent a small fortune on vinyl around here. Oh, the plight of a record geek.
The 1959 Marcel Camus directed film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro in Portuguese) is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a special screening on Saturday night (Feb 14th) at the Culver Plaza Theaters as part of the ongoing Pan African Film Festival which Amoeba has been promoting. If you can, you should attend this screening. I have already seen the film about a dozen times, but never on the big screen where it is meant to be seen. What I love most about Black Orpheus, even on the small screen, is the music, which is a seemingly never ending percussion based track that plays throughout the entire film as everyone moves to its rhythm. It is like one long dance.
Beautifully shot, it is a love story based on the play Orfeu da Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, which is an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice only set in (then contemporary) late 1950's Rio de Janeiro during the Carnaval festivities. If it were not for this film the whole Bossa nova (which is Portuguese for "new trend") movement would not have taken off.
The film influenced many people in the US upon its release and in subsequent years. One of these was longtime jazz musician and Bay Area jazz radio DJ Dick Conte who, as a jazz piano player/keyboardist, has long fronted his own trio and as a radio DJ has been on such Bay Area stations as legendary jazz station KJAZ where he started his radio DJ career in 1962 and worked on-and-off until 1983, KMPX, KSFO, KKCY, KKSF (where he worked for over 20 years until last month and where he hosted the Sunday night jazz show that included the popular feature "A Taste Of Brazil"), and KCSM 91.1FM where he hosts the Saturday afternoon jazz program from 2-6PM.