On Sting’s new album Duets this isn't the first time that Sting and Herbie Hancock have worked together nor is it this track's first release. Sting.com notes: ''Sting and Herbie Hancock first met in Paris in 1985, when Sting was performing at the Mogador Theatre with the Blue Turtles band, including his longtime friend and collaborator Branford Marsalis.'' The song opens Sting’s 2005 compilation album My Funny Valentine – At The Movies. A couple of decades later the pair recorded together on Herbie's Possibilities (2005) interpreting Sting's 1980s-era Nothing Like the Sun song 'Sister Moon.'
Regarding the Rodgers and Hart song 'Valentine' first performed in 1937 by child star Mitzi Green, in terms of Herbie you must go to the classic Miles Davis album My Funny Valentine (1965) on which Herbie participates. By contrast on this duo synths at first shroud us. Sting on his vocal seems to be steering close to Chet Baker a tiny bit at least at the beginning and then navigates his own journey through the song. Herbie then on piano with the synth heard behind the piano line develops the accompaniment and he flicks to an almost Andalusian mode momentarily (36 second mark) in one interesting lick fleetingly deployed but proving highly effective.
Sting's vocal works very well. While he is very attuned to a jazz sensibility from his early pre-fame days in the north-east of England he isn't at all a natural jazz singer. (He was outshone completely in his recent 'Little Something' duet with Melody Gardot who actually is a jazz singer, although that whole subject is very subjective, however pop she goes.) Herbie's piano lines are exquisite and carry the duo. Against the odds it all works. Drummer Steve Jordan's use of cymbals come through firmly after the half-way mark and Herbie's main solo follows. Sting, top left, and Herbie Hancock