May 31, 2012

Johnny Hartman: The Book!

Just like the Ruts, as I posted yesterday, one other record thats never far from the tip of my tongue when it comes to all time favorites is John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman. Simply put, that album changed my life. Not only was it my ticket into a deeper appreciation & love for jazz, but it introduced me to one of the great cult heroes of any sort of music - the only vocalist John Coltrane ever thought enough of to make an album with, Mr. Johnny Hartman.

For whatever reason, I was recently Googling around, as you do, and looked up Johnny Hartman. And much to my surprise & delight I found out that the book pictured to the left will be published this summer. Not only is it incredible as its a new book on Hartman, the amazing thing is that, as far as I know, its the only book specifically about him. He gets lots of mentions in various histories and bios of related musicians, especially Coltrane, but no one has ever dedicated an entire tome to his story. My money would have been on Will Friedwald, being the first, but that would have made me a loser.

Anyway, if you're not familiar with Johnny Hartman, but like good vocalists, and possibly like jazz, start with John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman - you cannot go wrong. Its one of those perfect albums. From the artwork, to the production, to the songs, to the running order, everything about it screams classic. Not to mention, it contains the best version of "Lush Life" ever committed to tape - not an easy song to do really well. Hartman nails it. The general story about the album goes that Hartman, Coltrane and his quartet, were so on their game that day in the studio, that every song on the session was done in one take - except for one where Hartman was so entranced by Coltrane's playing, he didn't come back in with the vocal where he was supposed to.

If the Coltrane album knocks you out, I highly suggest The Johnny Hartman Collection 1947-1972, compiled lovingly by the aforementioned Will Friedwald. And if you're anything like I was when I first got bitten by the Hartman bug, you'll soon be running all over trying to get your hands on everything Hartman recorded. Luckily, its much easier these days than it was twenty years ago.

Sweet Jesus, I hope this book is good.

Pre-order The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story here.
Visit the book's official website here.
Buy Johnny Hartman music here.
Study the Hartman discography here.

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