As the latest edition in its For Lovers series, Verve issues this stellar collection of cuts by "the Voice" himself, Johnny Hartman. Indeed, given the nature of Hartman's significant -- and even singular contribution -- to the art of the ballad, it's a wonder that the label didn't issue one before now. The 11 tracks here range chronologically, from 1963-1966, and are culled from such classic albums as John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Unforgettable, I Just Dropped By to Say Hello, and Voice That Is! Tracks include "Unforgettable," "Stairway to the Stars," "These Foolish Things," "For the Want of a Kiss," "My One and Only Love," and others, with backing by not only the Coltrane quartet, but Hank and Elvin Jones, Milt Hinton, Illinois Jacquet, Herb Ellis, Joe Mondragon, Mike Melvoin, Richard Davis, Gerald Wilson, and others. But it's the mood, the feel, the grace, the aplomb, and the dignity that are in the smoothed-out grain of Hartman's instrument, seducing the listeners and instilling a great calm and a quiet yearning. In addition to having all of these songs in one place for a budget price, there is a terrific, beautifully articulated set of liner notes by the writer Al Young, who places the great Hartman in his proper historical and aesthetic context.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek