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Jazz Birthdays: The Turbanator and the Voice | July 3, 2012

This video starts with Sammy Davis Jr. playing the vibes, then introducing Johnny Hartman.

The Voice

Born in Louisiana on this day in 1923, Johnny Hartman was raised in Chicago.  He won a singing contest in 1946 that landed him a week’s gig with bandleader Earl Hines, which then turned into a year-long stay.  Leaving the be-bop revolution behind, his solo career in the 1950’s was lackluster.  An offer in 1963 to record with saxophonist John Coltrane put Hartman back in the public eye, and their recording together is considered a classic.

Hartman appeared mostly at cocktail lounges through the 1970’s and was nominated for a Grammy in 1981 for Best Male Jazz Vocalist for his album  Once in Every Life.  He died in 1983.  His music was re-discovered by a new generation when it was featured in Clint Eastwood’s 1995 movie The Bridges of Madison County.

Hartman’s first biography, The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story, by Dr. Gregg Akkerman, was released in June  by Scarecrow Press as part of their “Studies in Jazz” series.

The Turbanator

Dr. Lonnie Smith celebrates his 70th birthday today with several nights at NYC’s Jazz Standard, performing both with his trio and his “In The Beginning” Octet.  

Born to a musical family in Buffalo, NY, he started out singing in a number of vocal groups in the 1950’s.  That could explain why he does such a great Johnny Mathis impersonation…seriously.  Just ask him, he’ll do it.

From Dr. Lonnie Smith’s website:  Since 1969, when Downbeat magazine named him “Top Organist” of that year, Dr. Lonnie Smith has won a plethora of critics’ polls as the world’s premier organist/keyboardist. Moreover, he was recently inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Jazz Organ Fellowship’s Hall of Fame. In 2012, Dr. Smith launched his own recording and production company—Pilgrimage Productions—for which he will soon release a blazing new live trio album, as well as the first installment of the Dr. Smith songbook series, a program designed to shed light on the organist’s vast (yet often overlooked) career as a composer.

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    Robin’s Nest

    A blog about Jazz, Blues, Latin Jazz, New Orleans, musician's stories and more. My name is Robin Lloyd and I've been involved in jazz radio and the music business for over 30 years. This is my personal blog.

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