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Friday, August 24, 2012

Looking Back


John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman gave the world what is clearly a great musical achievement. Here is a critique lifted from Music Direct:

John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (1963-IMPULSE)

" ... Hartman's voice is right there and full-throated; again, I've never heard all the subtleties of his vibrato or all the slight accents in his phrasing. Coltrane's saxophone is in the room. Elvin Jones' drums bang and whisper. (Listen to that brush-wooshing! You get every wisp and sizzle.) Even McCoy Tyner's piano, often hooded in Van Gelder sessions, rings clear. Jimmy Garrison's bass may be a little forward, but it sounds like the pick-up amp, not a recording artifact. This is a gorgeous album, gorgeously mastered and essential."

- Fred Kaplan, The Absolute Sound, June/July 2005, Issue 154

The clarinetist Tony Scott, who trod the same musical path as Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker, once called the number “Lush Life” “the Mount Everest of Jazz soloists.” Thousands have stood at the foot of the mountain but only a couple of dozen ever made it right to the top. Among these few were the singer Johnny Hartman and the John Coltrane Quartet in March 1963 — not just with that song but with other favorites too. The list extends from “They Say It’s Wonderful” which sounds as though it is clad in black silk, to the lyrical “My One And Only Love,” right up to the light-footed rumba “Autumn Serenade,” here are six true masterpieces which will get right under your skin. Just listen to how relaxed and self-assuredly the crooner’s great voice carries the melody, which is then taken up and continued by John Coltrane on his instrument.


My One And Only Love

Guy Wood; Robert Mellin

The very thought of you makes my heart sing
Like an April breeze on the wings of spring
And you appear in all your splendor
My one and only love

The shadows fall and spread their mystic charms
In the hush of night while you're in my arms
I feel your lips so warm and tender
My one and only love

The touch of your hand is like heaven
A heaven that I've never known
The blush on your cheek whenever I speak
Tells me that you are my own

You fill my eager heart with such desire
Every kiss you give sets my soul on fire
I give myself in sweet surrender
My one and only love



Hearing this music for the first time in San Francisco in the late 70s in that period right before Anita Bryant attacked the gay community and wanted to "Save the Children" in Florida provided warmth and insulation against what was to come down the pike in the form of political persecution, assassination and disease.

A handsome loving man made scrambled eggs and platanos in the morning following a night filled with Mr Hartman's crooning, Mr Coltrane's playing and the man's embrace. It was an event that only enhances the appreciation of this exceptional music. As life progresses and brings with that progress hitherto unknown feelings and experiences, looking back on the person that one once was, affords not only comfort, but new clarity ...

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