Johnny Hartman, 1964
I purchased I Just Dropped by to Say Hello on a whim, at an antique mall in a small town on my way to the Charlotte Airport. Prior, I'd only ever heard Hartman's album with John Coltrane. Looking at the rogues gallery supporting Hartman on Dropped by made snatching it up a no-brainer: Elvin Jones from the Coltrane quartet on drums, legendary bop-era pianist Hank Jones and both Jim Hall and Kenny Burrell on guitar.
Hartman's voice is an enviable instrument. He occupies a space between Frank Sinatra's punchy bombast and Cole Porter's velveteen tone. This living contradiction imbues overly familiar songs with an easy mystery. Hartman's veteran band has the good sense to never get in his way, making sure his inimitable voice is always centerstage.