Personnel: Johnny Hartman (vocals); Illinois Jacquet (tenor saxophone); Hank Jones (piano); Kenny Burrell; Jim Hall (guitar); Milt Hinton (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded on October 9 & 17, 1963. Includes liner notes by Sid Mark.
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (MCA Music Media Studios).
Over the years, Johnny Hartman had worked with big bands and small combos, interpreting everything from romantic pop to elegant jazz--without achieving the star status his talent so richly deserved. So behind all the debonair trappings of I JUST DROPPED BY TO SAY HELLO, one can detect a certain world weariness.
Which only adds to the after-hours mystique that makes I JUST DROPPED BY TO SAY HELLO one of the great jazz vocal recitals. Everything clicks--from the cat-like brushwork of Elvin Jones and the lyric refinement of brother Hank Jones, to the rock-solid bass-lines of Milt Hinton and the bluesy romantic machismo of tenor giant Illinois Jacquet. Hartman's accompanists aren't simply hired hands--they're a band. Just listen to Jacquet's epic testimony on "Stairway To The Stars," guitarist Jim Hall's probing counterpoint on "Charade," or the Jones brothers' brilliant coda to the title tune--the group rapport is telepathic.
Hartman intones silky phrases over a montundo groove on Henry Mancini's "Charade," moving to easy swing paraphrases in the bridge, and descending into his deepest register, twisting suggestively at the final syllables. Where Sinatra's classic "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" is a study in pathos, Hartman mines the tune for its sweet vein of romanticism. The title tune and "Stairway To The Stars" illustrate Hartman's gifts for balladry and theatrical gestures, as he moves easily between his upper and lower registers, between cool recitatives and smooth phrasing, minus the glib, corny vibrato of too many faux romantics. Here, Hartman shows he is the genuine article.