Alternate versions - Chet Baker, 'My Funny Valentine'

Perhaps the mark of genius is the ability to return to the same 'material' and to re-invent it completely. It could be said that all musicians do this in every concert or show, as do comedians, but what we are thinking about here is not improvisation, but rather two distinct versions of the same song. 

Originally released on his Chet Baker Sings album (1956), this track only lasts a little over two minutes and starts with Baker's voice (immediately at the start, after one a singular note from the bass). His delivery is even, measured exhibiting none of the eccentric phrasing of the later recordings: it's a perfect performance, controlled and smooth. 

Three years later, from the concert in Turin, Italy - the same vocal-led version, but with a solo around the three minute mark. What strikes you is the slightly off phrasing; for example, the way he emphasises 'if' the first time he sings the line: 'Don't change your hair for me, not if you care for me' to later change it to 'for' when he returns to it. At first, shading his delivery with a hint of aggression to end on a note of discomfort and unease. (Baker's eyes hidden behind the dark sunglasses; his hand gripping the mic-stand and the missing teeth showing the first physical signs of decay: in Italy he would spend one year in jail because of drug offences). 5 mins 58. 

For me the greatest 'late performance' of the standard: live in Tokyo, 1987 (12 mins 55) starting with the vocals again, but with a phenomenal trumpet solo from Baker this time that rings out clear like a bell, becoming positively energetic, almost rocky with the band about half-way. Much of the genius of this performance comes from Baker's interaction with the accompanying musicians: Harold Danko on piano, Hein van de Gein on bass and John Engels on drums.  

Here you find the pure 'alternate version' as Baker begins with an extremely lyrical trumpet solo rather than vocals in this final concert from 1988 in Hannover, Germany two weeks before his death. (Baker was found dead on the street below his hotel room in Amsterdam with serious head-wounds and had apparently died from the fall).

There is something incredibly moving about the way Baker's vocals come in, so quiet and timid, in the place where it would usually be the trumpet solo. Here Baker stresses the first word, the 'you' and 'your' ('you make me smile with my heart ... your looks are laughable') so that the final words completely disappear.