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"He was a baritone with an ease that could kill you." So writes Eugene S. Robinson for Ozy.com, describing the genius jazz baritone crooner Johnny Hartman.
In 1946, when Hartman was 23, he won a singing contest; eventually, he earned a spot in Dizzy Gillespie's band. Hartman labored largely unappreciated after getting kicked out of the band. That is, until he was spotted by John Coltrane and got pulled into creating what is probably his most noted recording, John Coltane and Johnny Hartman. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin routinely sought out Hartman's shows to soak up how he caught the phrase of a song just so. Sadly, Hartman was felled by lung cancer at age 60; both his work and his story are heartbreakingly underappreciated.
Here, Analogue Productions brings you Once in Every Life. This was Johnny Hartman's next-to-last album (he made a record for Audiophile 12 days later) and the 57-year-old singer was still in prime form. His rich baritone voice is joined by a sextet also including Frank Wess (on tenor and flute), trumpeter Joe Wilder and pianist Billy Taylor.
The ballads range from slow to a brighter medium-tempo pace, and Hartman (particularly on such tunes as "Easy Living," "Wave" and "I Could Write a Book") shows that he still had it this late in his career, writes AllMusic. In his film "Bridges of Madison County" Clint Eastwood used four tracks from Once in Every Life. That movie turned a lot of people on to Johnny Hartman.
Needless to say, the richness of this SACD reissue doesn't stop with Hartman's easy, mellow voice. Not by a long shot. To present his gorgeous tone in its best light we relied upon the always-top-notch mastering of Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, and the superior analog-like sound of SACD. Top it off with a 8-panel booklet with session photos in a Super Jewel case and you've got the best Johnny Hartman reissue album you'll ever own.
This is definitely one you're not going to want to miss. Wow! Analogue Productions' Chad Kassem had been trying to license this title since 1994, and we finally got it. You'll know why he tried so long after you hear it. If you like our reissue of Dean Martin/Dream With Dean, you're gonna love this one.
"This is a record fans of it have long hoped would be reissued but I'd been told that (Clint) Eastwood had gone beyond licensing the tracks and had bought the tapes. Leave it to Chad Kassem to get the tapes ... In any case the sound here is even better way better than the already fine original. If you are a fan of this kind of 'Great American Songbook' style singing, you'll love this record. How great was Hartman? He's the only vocalist John Coltrane recorded with, but you probably knew that. An easy to recommend reissue!" - Michael Fremer, AnalogPlanet.com, Music 9/11, Sound 10/11
"Analogue Productions rose to the challenge and reissued this gem in ever better balance, clarity, and focus of instruments. Hartman's voice is pure velvet smoothness. His mellow baritone at times is amazing in his breath control. Instruments come out of darkness, and yet blend and support Hartman to perfection. ... This entire album is not to be missed. It is a valuable example of how to produce a recording that literally takes the listener on a journey through the ups and downs of love and romance. Analogue Productions has done it yet again. This recording is ageless, and is a top recommendation from me!" - David Nemzer, Positive Feedback Online, November 2016
Super Audio CD
SACD Stereo SACD Layer
This Hybrid SACD contains a 'Red Book' Stereo CD Layer which is playable on most conventional CD Players!
Mastered From Original Analog Master Tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio
8-panel booklet with session photos
Johnny Hartman, vocals
Frank Wess, tenor sax, flute
Joe Wilder, trumpet, flugelhorn
Al Gafa, guitar
Billy Taylor, piano
Victor Gaskin, bass
Keith Copeland, drums
1. Easy Living
2. It Was Almost Like A Song
4. By Myself
5. For All We Know
6. Will You Still Be Mine
7. Nobody Home
8. I Could Write A Book
9. I See Your Face Before Me