Jazz Appreciation Month on WRTI: Classic Album of the Week is John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Apr 16, 2018

April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), so we're spotlighting albums that are the benchmarks of influence and popularity. Each week we're highlighting an album that deserves to be called classic—the collaboration of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman is this week's timeless wonder.

In March of 1963, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane did something he had never done before, and would never do again— he walked into Van Gelder studios in New Jersey to record an album with a vocalist.

Johnny Hartman was his partner in this endeavor, a man he knew from playing in Dizzy’s band in the 1940s. Neither of the men knew how the recording would turn out. Luckily, there was chemistry, and now John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman is a classic.

The six song track listing, albeit short, is incredibly meaningful, as the duo chose songs that they believed in.

One of the standout tunes on the album was not on the initial set list. “Lush Life” was a game time decision, as they had just heard Nat King Cole’s version on the radio during their ride to the studio.

Trane and Johnny were able to take standards (and songs they made standard) and present them in a way that not only did the compositions justice, but made them their own.

Along with the two leaders on this record, some of Coltrane’s band mates round out the sound. McCoy Tyner accompanies beautifully and masterfully, along with Jimmy Garrison on the bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. After all this time, it still sounds perfect.

Check out Kile Smith's Arts Desk piece on "My One and Only Love."