If you are looking for an album for relaxing, but with a bit of old-fashioned sophistication, music, this is the one. This is from the days when folks knew how to entertain; cocktails, ambiance, NO DEVICES, and enjoyed each other's company; with 'Quality Conversation'. This man knows how to set the mood for (hmmmm) anything !
Ahhh, Johnny. I jus' can't sing enough praises 'bout this man an' the work he did throughout his career. Findin' a truly rare jazz vocalist outside the realm of the well knowns (i.e. Billie, Sinatra, Nat, etc.) is a trial in itself, but whenever people discover Hartman, they seem 'ta stick with 'em. His voice is relaxed an' tempered, his sound is lush an' quietly beautiful, an' his selection of songs is on point with whatcha would wanna hear from him. Great standards like 'In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning', 'Don't You Know I Care', 'Don't Call it Love' an' the title song are all jus' morose melodies an' Hartman's treatment of 'em evokes jus' that. These're the kinda songs that're for a certain kind'a mood, one extreme or the other. In other words, you can entertain a date with it, but me personally, i'm jus' as well off pourin' some liquor, smokin' some cigarettes, an' layin' on the hood'a my car watchin' the stars at night. I'm prob'ly more prone to do the latter, but both're appropriate circumstances. This release may'a been overshadowed by the 100 million-star Coltrane an' Hartman album which came out the same year, but don't let that sway you, 'cause if the voice on that one reached out an' touched 'ya, then it'll be sure to do the same on here. Hartman's sangin' is outstanding an' his efforts make this a classic to sit between my 'Trane an' Hartman disc an' my Clifford Brown with Strings disc. It jus' gets no better, in my opinion.
I was listening to the Carly Simon cover of Wee Small Hours and I said " I bet this person has never heard Johnny Hartman's version of this because they would've never tried it." I am not a comparer but this is easily one of the gems of vocal performance. Yes, Frank is god, yadda yadda yadda, go to Vegas and have a drink for me, but this guy is the full bill of goods. I would love to use this in a film version Of Catcher in The Rye, because there is such a wonderful atmosphere about this. The cd as a whole is a little loungier(he covers charade, for god's sake) and purists jonesing for the Hartman Coltrane should just listen to that again....but it is still a great jazz record. Some of the arrangements are amazing. A couple of times the rhythm section drops out, leaving Johnny with one instrument. These moments are simplicity itself, but heartstoppingly gorgeous. And hartman is a master. Pure and simple oh, and the cover is why I bought the album...so evocative of a certain period. check it out