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Mellow Moods

Read "Mellow Moods" reviewed by AAJ Staff

Jazz in all its rich variety encompasses all the colors from deepest blue to piercing red. For this particular section of Building a Jazz Library, we've selected a handful of recordings which you might color green: green for go, green for growth. If you're a jazz neophyte, you'll find an opportunity here in these recordings to wrap your ears around some mellow music. Find yourself a comfortable chair, get your favorite drink handy, and just sit back and ...

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The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story

Read "The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story" reviewed by Gregg Akkerman

[Editor's Note: The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story (Scarecrow Press, 2012), by Gregg Akkerman, is the long-overdue biography of a singer who, amongst other things, achieved considerable fame for his classic collaboration with intrepid saxophonist John Coltrane, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1963).] Several years ago I was riding in a car to a jazz gig with a few cohorts when “Lush Life" from the iconic John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album began playing on ...

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Johnny Hartman: Johnny Hartman The Complete Gus Wildi Recordings

Read "Johnny Hartman The Complete Gus Wildi Recordings" reviewed by Marcia Hillman

Johnny Hartman recorded these 25 songs, all standards and each a special performance, for Gus Wildi's Bethlehem Records during 1955 and 1956. On the first twelve tracks (released on From The Heart), Hartman is backed by trumpeter Howard McGhee, pianist Ralph Sharon, bassist Jay Cave and drummer Christy Febbo. Hartman approaches each song in a straightforward way, using his voice to caress the melodies. McGhee and Sharon contribute tasty fills on all tracks, and McGhee delivers a wonderful solo on ...

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Alas, Poor Ghost: Echoes of Johnny Hartman

Read "Alas, Poor Ghost:  Echoes of Johnny Hartman" reviewed by Alexander M. Stern

At the time of his death in 1983, Johnny Hartman was already a ghost. A supreme interpreter of ballads with a lush, velvety baritone, Hartman combated indifference for nearly forty years, his one moment in the sun a 1963 collaboration with saxophonist John Coltrane's classic quartet. That album, the superb John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, is Hartman's definitive statement and remains, along with a glass of white wine and a crackling fire, an essential aid to seduction. For all that, ...

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Johnny Hartman: The Perception Years

Read "The Perception Years" reviewed by AAJ Staff

On this two-fer disc of early '70s albums Today and I’ve Been There, the voice that went almost note for note with John Coltrane does what he does best and more (or less). Though chock full of Mercer-ized timeless ballads, this oft-dynamic duo also offers more dated and perhaps less well chosen selections. The albums range from Jim Webb’s “Didn’t We" and a chiming take on Johnny Mercer’s (no relation) “Summer Wind," to a pair by Kris Kristofferson and a ...

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Johnny Hartman: The Voice That Is!

Read "The Voice That Is!" reviewed by AAJ Staff

The lush baritone voice of Johnny Hartman enriched many big bands in the Forties and Fifties including Dizzy Gillespie's and Erol Garner's. But in the sixties he recorded many fine albums as leader and with all-star small groups. Although not as popular as some of his other releases, “The Voice That Is" is an exceptional showcase of his beautiful talent.

Hartman is clearly the central figure in this recording. He doesn't share the limelight with many soloists as on his ...

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Johnny Hartman: And I Thought About You

Read "And I Thought About You" reviewed by AAJ Staff

The world of jazz, much like life itself, is very often confusing and unfair. Artists that are widely respected and loved by their peers often fail to “make it big", while others that no one seems to care for very often rise to the status of superstars. But as in life, history often seems to have a way of using unusual means to deliver at least a measure of posthumous justice. In the case of vastly under appreciated jazz vocalist ...


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