Johnny Hartman was the exquisuitely romantic balladeer who was the only singer ever to record with John Coltrane. Hartman followed in the footsteps of Billy Eckstine, but with an ease and warmth and gift of his own. In 1963 Coltrane and Hartman made the classic self-named album, with Coltrane’s group including McCoy Tyner on piano. Except for its brevity it is a perfect album, and all of Hartman’s work is worth hearing.
Hartman died too young (of lung cancer) in 1983. Today is the anniversary of his birth. After Hartman’s death, Clint Eastwood brought Hartman to the attention of the wider audience he deserved by placing Hartman’s songs throughout the soundtrack of “Bridges of Madison County.” For an amazing look back at Hartman doing his thing backed by a sympathetic trio, first on a blues song and then on the kind of ballad he turned into art, check out the terrific video of Hartman singing with the Loonis McGlohan Trio here.
JOHN adds: My partners eclipsed me long ago in the field of political commentary, but my technical skills are still occasionally useful. Here is the video; it’s terrific:
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