John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman
Original Release Date: March 7, 1963
Audio CD: June 27, 1995
Format: Original recording remastered
Label: Grp Records
Bitrate: 320 kbps
I've been sitting here reading fellow Amazon reviewers take on "John Coltrane and Johhny Hartman" and I've noticed a trend that I find discomforting - if not exactly true as well. But I'll soon get to that. First, I think a little background is needed to fully understand where this cd is at, musically speaking of course.
When approached to do an "album" with a singer Cotrane's first, and I suspect only response, was Johnny Hartman. Hartman was close to being a complete unknown in a field where he so obviously excelled and Coltrane, while recording two albums of ballads previous to this record, "Ballads" and "Duke Ellington and John Coltrane" was still attempting to facillitate a style that reached the outer boundaries of the restrictive nature of popular song. That being the case they entered the studio and preceded to record a classic - in every sense of the word.
Now, unlike other reviewer's comments about Coltrane being subjected to the role of "sideman" to Johnny Hartman's vocals this, I feel, simply misses the point of what this cd is about. Coltrane's tenor, I feel, is actually the "second voice" on this fine disc. The interaction between voice and musical instrument will always be debated as how to best draw a "focal point" where each can draw inspiration from the other and I feel that this is as close as I've ever heard to having those two seperate entities actually realizing that one precise point where vocals and intrumentation blend together in perfect unison . A perfect blending of two "instruments". Obviously a listener's attention will always turn toward the vocal aspect of any piece of music due to it's simply being recorded at the front end of any song. And being Johnny Hartman how could you not pay close attention! But, if you truly listen to when Coltrane enters each song, a prime example being " Lush Life", than you may have an idea as to what I am saying. Coltrane's saxophone isn't so much accompanying Hartman as much as "singing" with him. I suspect this is the closest thing we may have to an actual "duet" regarding voice and musical accompiantment. While it's true that Coltrane did go back into the studio at a later date to overdub some phrases for "My One And Only Love', "Lush Life" and "You Are Too Beautiful" basicallly what you have here is recorded "live". Which only enhances the sheer "magic" of this disc!
And speaking of accompiantment isn't it time to give credit to McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. Without these fine musicians I suspec this cd would surely lose some of it's lustre! A truly first rate quartet that is second only to Mile's work on "Kinda Blue".
So, in the end, purchase your own copy of "Coltrane/Hartman" and hear what all the fuss is about. Whether you agree with my observations or not this cd is simply too good to pass up. Simple, beautiful and terribly romantic! Actually, forget all this superficial analyzing and enjoy the disc for what it is - Simply Wonderful! ~ douglas barton "emotions in motion"
John Coltrane’s matchup with singer Johnny Hartman, although quite unexpected, works extremely well. Hartman, who had not recorded since 1956, was in prime form on the six ballads, and his versions of “Lush Life” and “My One and Only Love” have never been topped. Coltrane’s playing throughout the session is beautiful, sympathetic, and still exploratory; he sticks exclusively to tenor on the date. At only half an hour, one wishes there were twice as much music, but what is here is classic, essential for all jazz collections. ~ Scott Yanow, AMG
John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman Tracks:
01 They Say It’s Wonderful
02 Dedicated to You
03 My One and Only Love
04 Lush Life
05 You Are Too Beautiful
06 Autumn Serenade