We’re looking forward to our concert at the Newbury Spring Festival this coming Friday. For this new programme we have commissioned composer and arranger Harry Baker to arrange the well-known song My Funny Valentine which will open the second half of the programme.
My arrangement of My Funny Valentine for SANSARA is a reconstruction of sorts. Originally a musical number, the song was conceived as a playful love song where the subject pokes fun at their lover’s ‘laughable’ looks and ‘less-than-Greek’ figure, but ultimately doesn’t want them to change. The song has since endured many diverse interpretations, most notably by trumpeter Miles Davis on the many seminal live recordings he made with his Second Great Quintet through the 1960s, which reveal an intriguing darker side to the jazz standard. Inspired by this, I’ve reframed its lyric content in my setting for SANSARA, drawing greater attention to the subject’s final few despairing utterances: ‘Don’t change your hair for me, not if you care for me; stay, little valentine, stay!’ Through doing so, and reinforced by musical material of similar character, I hope to have brought out an anguish in the song similar to that sought by Miles in his classic recordings.
Harry is a pianist and composer with an equal passion for classical performance and for jazz and improvisation. A key player in the UK jazz scene, Harry has featured as a bandleader and sideman at the 606 Club, Pizza Express Jazz Club and The Mad Hatter; yet he is equally steeped in the classical tradition, having performed in collaborative duos and chamber groups at Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, St John’s Smith Square and on BBC Radio 3. He is also an in-demand composer and arranger of choral and vocal music, and has written works for the Choirs of Merton and Magdalen College Oxford and the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, with whom he is a Young Composer. Harry is currently embarking on a rather ambitious suite for big band and voices entitled ‘The Floating Boy’, to be performed by Oxford University Jazz Orchestra and vocal ensemble The Oxford Gargoyles in June 2019.