The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story
After five selections, Hartman had warmed up to the audience and shared a brief story about Ellington once requesting that Hartman sing "September Song" as long as he could include the introductory verse. He gladly complied. Compared to his 1955 version on Songs from the Heart, Hartman now presented "September" with a seasoned maturity that caressed every nuance in the lyric. When Hartman sang about precious and vintage years, he now possessed a hard-earned credibility that was unavoidably absent in the earlier draft. After decades of singing to people all over the world, Hartman had become a master story teller and the reverence awarded him by the subdued Newport Jazz Festival audience was palpable. A rancor may have hung over the city that night, but during Hartman's four Ellington-related performances, the air above Avery Fisher Hall was filled with delight.
1. John S. Wilson, "Song Salute Swings, Then Melts," New York Times, 3 July 1975, 22.
2. Whitney Balliett, Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz, 19542000. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000, 448.
3. Burt Goldblatt, Newport Jazz FestivalThe Illustrated History, New York: Dial, 1977, 238.
4. Patricia O'Hare cited in Goldblatt, Newport Jazz FestivalThe Illustrated History, 234.
5. John S. Wilson, "Hartman Singing in 'Voices Of Jazz,'" New York Times, 21 May 1982.
Johnny Hartman Photo: Courtesy of Bethlehem Records