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Johnny Hartman

Though he was never the most distinctive vocalist, Johnny Hartman rose above others to become the most commanding, smooth balladeer of the 1950s and '60s, a black crooner closely following Billy Eckstine and building on the form with his notable jazz collaborations, including the 1963 masterpiece John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Born in Chicago, he began singing early on and performed while in Special Services in the Army. Hartman studied music while at college and made his professional debut in the mid-'40s, performing with Earl Hines and recording his first sides for Regent/Savoy. After Hines' band broke up later in 1947, Hartman moved to the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and stayed for two years, recording a few additional sides for Mercury as well.

Johnny Hartman's first proper LP came in 1956 with Songs from the Heart, recorded for Bethlehem and featuring a quartet led by trumpeter Howard McGhee. He recorded a second (All of Me) later that year, but then was virtually off-record until 1963, when his duet album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman appeared on Impulse. A beautiful set of ballad standards, including top-flight renditions of "Lush Life" and "My One and Only Love," the album sparked a flurry of activity for Hartman, including two more albums for Impulse: 1963's I Just Dropped by to Say Hello and the following year's The Voice That Is. During the late '60s and early '70s, he recorded a range of jazz and pop standards albums for ABC, Perception, and Blue Note. Hartman recorded sparingly during the 1970s, but returned with two albums recorded in 1980, one of which (Once in Every Life) earned a Grammy nomination just two years before his death in 1983. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Comments

A great artist, grew up listening to him
a_tellez00
Thanks Mr Eastwood for turning me on to Johnny Hartman ....
Who sings like Johnny Hartman? Right...no one. He was one of a kind!!
My ringtone is a Coltrane-Har t m a n favorite of mine. A fan since the early 60's.
Hartman was a very good singer in his own right. However when his voice was coupled with Coltrane's magic he became great. That effort remains THE best jazz recording ever........ . i n this fans opinion.
michaelblade s 8
The Coltrane & Johnny Hartman Album or CD, it doesn't get any better. So sad what people call great music now.
You want great music just go to a Clint Eastwood (produced/di r e c t e d ) film Bridges of Madison County, Play Misty for Me, Garden of Good and Evil, etc, etc. Clint has been a great promoter of jazz.
vhafkeme
Bridges of Madison County is the absolute best music! Thnx for the sounds, Johnny
What a great voice! I thought it was Billy Eckstine at first but then I noticed a difference. I think Hartman's voice is the better one.
mreclectic20 0 2
I also am grateful to Clint Eastwood for introducing me to Johnny Hartman through his choice of Johnny Hartman's voice for the soundtrack of Bridges of Madison County'.
I think his voice is beyond comparison. It carries me away. Thank you Johnny Hartman.
Nothing like Hartman's Lush Life.
If only we could turn back time...
erskine.lytl e 9
Hartman was a distinct sound. I enjoy listening to him. His is a smooth, clear, even sound well within his range. I'm a Temptations fan (original of course) but I really enjoy listening to Johnny Hartman.
You're off base if I may. It's just that crooner contains the letters c-o-o-n ... & you're bothered by that. Plus black crooners were a distinct vocal style of that time. They were so good that they were successful even in a mid-20th century time when they were out of the main-stream.
I'm not even African-Amer i c a n , yet the first line of this bio, using the phrase black crooner, sounds distinctly racist to me! You don't call Sinatra a white crooner, right? Any people of color out there, let me know if I'm way off base?
Smooth as silk, sharp as a razor, what a delight! Johnny Johnny Johnny.... Sing true
I never knew his name but finally looked at the titles in Bridges of Madison County, thanks Clint. Now I listen to him almost daily as I do my design work, never need to click him off, rich, lush, expressive, tasteful, vocal elegance, qualities rare these days in male vocalists.
rmelmon
Whew...just magic. Lush Life is just beautiful. A few months ago Dish had a special on his life. Just wonderful!
while i was gettihg married my choice of background music was they say falling in love is wonderfull by john coltrane & johnny hartman
joylady90056
A voice like velvet.....I could listen to him all day!
Johny Hartman was without question the vocalist's vocalist. He sang his music as if he played himself/his voice as the fine instrument it was. He is, was and remains one of my favorites. His smooth rich texture speaks a myriad of nuances communicatin g so many layers of conversation which he articulated through music. Rare and unique he is one-of-kind.
Like Velvet..... in a class by himself
Whew! what a ballad, with 'Trane backing him how could you go wrong. My Mother told me a story about seeing Hartman sing at a venue known as the Living Room in Cincinnati sometime in the 60's. Her girlfriend said Hartman sang from so deep down, it sounded like it was coming from his.... well, you get the idea, I think she was kinda physically attracted to him, as well as being enchanted by his music.
rreinwart
After hearing Johnny Hartman sing, I used to think of voice like an instrument, but Hartman's voice is more: it's instrument, a sound of nature like a soft rain and meditative like great booze all in one!
dickkunzig
What a voice...John n y Hartman!! Why have his songs not received more of a push?
Johnny Hartman..... . I can't say enough about this man....I first heard him with the great ..John Coltrane...o n the album that came out in 1963 and was an instant hit. I ran out to purchase it when I heard the first cut..I just knew it was a winner.Hartm a n ' s big baritone voice...and Coltrane's soulful tenor sax,,,was a combination that I felt was going to set the recording industry aflame.....a n d it did. It became a best seller and in no time had people buying the album off the shelves.. it wen
So smooth. What a voice!
Easily the smoothest voice i've ever heard. The style is beautiful but is forgotten today.
clearaudio
The late but never forgotten William edison, Frey III A.K.A.(Ted)R . I . P . from muncie P.A Introduced me to the real jazz and this is it at its finest. Jonny hartman & John Coltrane have broken the mold with this one. Specially the lush life O.M.G.! He s
I don't understand the first line of this biography. I've heard Billy Eckstine and all the others. Nobody sings like Johnny Hartman! In my mind, he is simply the best. I think that phrase should be excised and whoever wrote it should put down the pen. The shame is that he didn't record with Coltrane again (and again and again). Sinatra,
Bennet etc. are all great male singers obviously--b u t I'd rather listen to Hartman's voice than any other.
What a great voice! I just Dropped By To Say Hello!
jane90104
Unbelievable that I've never heard this before. What an amazing voice ... I think they called the wrong voice velvet.
emax45
In the dance scene in the movie The Bridges of Madison County, Johnny Hartman is singing " I See Your Face Before Me". It is AMAZING!!
nadinechase
It is a travesty that not enough people know about Johnny Hartman and the richness of his voice, the way he turned a phrase. You could fall in love listening to him sing. I had the good fortune of hearing him live in Boston and he was beyond wonderful. Whoever said Johnny Hartman's voice was not distinctive, doesn't know jazz well enough.
I'm amazed how many people who were around during his time never heard of him. He was one of the greatest singers of all time and "My One and Only Love" with Coltrane one of the greatest recordings. It's a great injustice that he didn't receive more recognition.
Not distinctive? I could identify that voice in the first word of a song. What I find most appealing about Hartman is how fresh his style sounds today. Too bad he smoked himself into an early grave.

Tastefully yours,
Tom Fitzmorris
brady.wilker s o n
As a single father with an infant son, I sang Hartmans "My One and Only Love" to my son each night. In part because I didn't know the words to childrens songs
Johhy Hartman is a phenomenal vocalist with such clarity in his smooth delivery. The richness o fhis voice and the timing of his lyric phasing always seemed perfectly delivered. He had John Coltranes respect so that says it all . And yes he died too soon.
his record with coltrane as good as it gets...he as just as good in person...car e e r really took of only to have cancer cut it short...ciga r e t t e s the probable cause as he smoked all the time...just like nat cole who also died too soon.
superb!
rertmr
I'm not sure what "never the most distinctive vocalist" means. He sounds pretty distinctive to me and, apparently, to the other folks leaving comments here. And by the way "coolplanter " , NPR reports the news, so I don't know what agreeing with it has to do with anything and it certainly has nothing to do with Johnny Hartman. I wish people would keep political comments out of this music forum. If you want to make snarky comments about NPR there are plenty of right wing websites to do that.
amusicman70
Between Johnny Hartman and Arthur Prysock, I don't know which has the richesty tones. Two great singers.
He was better than everybody except Mr B. Nat couldnt touch him. White people think he was too pretty and drove there women crazy, so they never gave him a chance. The only two brothers who gave him an opportunity to perform and make money was Coltrane and Miles. Hartman had the most silky, velvet, sexy and romantic voice of all times. The jazz world lost a great stylist when Hartman passed.
bgmakriswork
We had this CD playing when my father passed away 8 weeks ago...it eased his soul and helped his passing a smooth one. Thank you...
I heard his album with Coltrane described on NPR as perhaps the best album ever made--and I think, to this day, this may be the only thing that NPR and I will ever agree upon.
deb336
This bio doesn't come close to doing Mr. Hartman justice. He's the male Sarah Vaughan. He's the vocal equivalent of Coltrane. "...never the most distinctive vocalist"? Hardly! He's like wrapping up in a blankie warm from the dryer on a rainy evening.
rodneyjhughe s
very smooth
mooyoo.77
great voice--smoot h as silk.
Nancy Wilson is the only one who can give Hartman a run for his money on "Lush Life".
The most soothing voice ever. Can make you forget your troubles and bring you to tears at the same time.
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