"The great Johnny Hartman's career began in 1947 and recording his way through numbers of record labels virtually until his passing in 1983. One of the greatest interpreters of love songs that ever lived, he had the gift of making you feel every word. Hartman was an early disciple of Sinatra, but making each song his own, as in - "LUSH LIFE" (with John Coltrane), it's torchy and sad but not despondent, not suicidal. Same way with - "IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS, Hartman wasn't influenced by the way Sinatra sang it, just took on a different meaning when Hartman did it. Where does Johnny Hartman rate in the line-up of Jazz and popular singers of our time? Just take a listen to this 2-CD-Set Hip-O Records has released, definitely a vocalist with the style and mastery that cannot be denied with pure talent.A few highlights - "DON'T YOU KNOW I CARE" (Duke Ellington/Mack David) not heard that much, this ballad is truly catchy and mind-lingering - "MY SHIP" (Ira Gershwin/Kurt Weill) beautiful song co-written by the composer who gave us "Mack the Knife", from "The Threepenny Opera".He was subtle, yet swinging on uptempo tunes and commanding on slow numbers. Hartman possessed a superb delivery and sound, had remarkable enunciation with a rich tone, which brings us to the question, "Why was this artist so under-rated and not as popular as the Sinatra's, Martin's and Como's"? But thanks to Hip-O, we can enjoy 38 tracks from various labels during his 25 professional year career.Hip-O Records - HIPD2 40137 (1998)/ 59:31 ON 21 Tracks(Disco One)/60:22 on 17 Tracks(Disc Two)"
Best Male Jazz Singer
J. Lovins | 11/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The late Johnny Hartmann is probably the most underrated jazz singer of all times. His warm, smooth baritone, brings to life all of the standards in a way that will leave you asking for more. Technique, phrasing, style --it is all perfect. As far as I am concerned he's much better than his far better known baritone contemporaries Billy Eckstein (too much vibrato), and even Joe Williams. As a singer in general I rate him ahead of just about every other male vocalist, including Sinatra."
Great overview of an outstanding singer
Anton Garcia Fernandez | Nashville, TN | 11/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Johnny Hartman was, no doubt, one of the most versatile singers of the twentieth century, a man whose warm, deep voice made him feel at home singing a varied range of songs, from pop to jazz to show tunes. He started out as a crooner in the late forties, somewhat influenced by Billy Eckstine but always with a style all his own, and his outstanding career ended in 1983, when he succumbed to lung cancer. In between those two dates, his highly personal voice was heard on stages all over the world, from the States to England to Australia to Japan, where he even recorded a couple of albums backed by Japanese sidemen.
Hartman's recorded legacy is one of the relatively unknown treasures of our time. Although he recorded for several labels over the years, in my opinion, his best work was done for Impulse Records in the early sixties, including an album with the legendary tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. Entitled simply "John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman" and released originally in 1963, it remains a masterpiece that everyone should own and cherish. Two songs from that album appear on this fantastic compilation, which is undoubtedly the most complete introduction to Hartman's work to date, featuring recordings that span 25 years, from 1947 to 1972.
Throughout the 38 tracks contained herein, we can hear how Hartman succeeds in singing very different types of songs with diverse kinds of accompaniment, making all songs his own. We can also witness Hartman's stylistic development, from his early years as a crooner up into his later efforts as a jazz singer - and one of the very best the world has ever known. If you don't own any other CDs by Hartman, then this is definitely where you should start to delve into his music. I am sure it will not be too long before you find yourself looking for other superb titles such as "I Just Dropped in to Say Hello," "The Voice That Is!," or his great collaboration with Coltrane."
Great forgotten singer
Randolph Risman | columbus ohio | 03/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Johnny Hartman has an exceptional voice quality that litterally ranges from tenor to bass. He is known as a baritone but his smooth resonant bass is something better known singers such as frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Tonny Bennet, Vic Damone, and many others are lacking. Therefore based on range,ability to sing from loud to soft, Hartman is superior. He also has great breath control,I can't hear any annoying breaths after holding notes, which is amazing considering he smoked so many cigarettes. He always seems to sing with perfect pitch and can sing many styles of music with a resonating baritone. The stacato jazz is a waste of his talent; he is better with poignant ballads which show his true melodious lyrical presence and at times almost operatic sound. He can sing the songs of Frank Sinatra with more power to his voice and certainly more resonance. He also sings on key better than Sinatra and has a much broader range. It is a shame he hasn't received accolaides or praise for being one of the great popular singers of the 20th century."
The greatest male voice of his time
Christoph K. Bennett | United States | 01/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This isn't necessarily a review on this disc, although it is great, as much as it is Johnny Hartman's entire body of work. His voice is unlike any other. No one, not even Frank, could turn a phrase like Johnny. It's so sad that he never really received his due while alive. He should've been as big as Sinatra or Nat King Cole. I advise picking up anything you can get your hands on by Hartman. His album w/ Coltrane is a good place to start. After listening to that though you'll find yourself admiring the voice and wanting to hear more of it. Get any of the Impulse recordings and this double disc set. They're all great!"