Matt Dusk – My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook (2013)

Matt Dusk - My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook (2013)
Artist: Matt Dusk
Album: My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook
Label: Royal Crown Records
Year Of Release: 2013
Format: FLAC (tracks)
01. My Funny Valentine
02. Time After Time
03. Angel Eyes
04. Embraceable You
05. Come Rain or Come Shine
06. Deep in a Dream
07. All the Way
08. There Will Never Be Another You
09. That Old Feeling
10. Let’s Get Lost
11. Someone to Watch Over Me
12. I Fall in Love Too Easily


Vocal tributes to Chet Baker have, of late, become a mini-industry. While the vast majority of interpreters have gotten it wrong, confusing Baker’s personal pathos with his music, crooner Matt Dusk succeeds by resisting the temptation to don a misrepresentative mask of tragedy. Instead, he opts to simply be himself. My Funny Valentine could just as easily be a tribute to Sinatra, with whom several selections, including “Angel Eyes” and “All the Way,” are more closely associated.

Across 12 tracks, Dusk alternates between swingin’ loose and light, à la Sinatra’s early Capitol days, and making more grandiose musical statements, as the Chairman was wont to do during his later Reprise years. The arrangements, variously crafted by Shelly Berger, Rick Wilkins and Ryan Ahlwardt, add additional distance, recalling the vibrant Nelson Riddle and Billy May charts that were essential to Sinatra’s midcareer rebound.

Still, Baker’s presence is occasionally felt, the haunted beauty of his horn playing evident on three tracks skillfully embellished by Arturo Sandoval, including a deliciously sultry “Let’s Get Lost,” and on a fragile “Someone to Watch Over Me” gently propelled by Guido Basso. Conversely, Ahlwardt’s attempt to echo Baker’s vocal etherealness while backing Dusk on the closing “I Fall in Love Too Easily” proves misguided, sounding instead like an over-stylized Art Garfunkel.

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