I previously mentioned Johnny Hartman in passing (in the Joe Williams post some time back) — but Hartman deserves his own FNJ post:
Harman’s voice is deep, dark and rich, his sense of pitch superb, his diction outstanding. If you want a mellifluous, honey-toned baritone, there is none better.
He was a crooner on par with Sinatra (if not better); indeed, Hartman may very well have been the greatest jazz balladeer of all time.
His best known work was the superb John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman – a beautiful, must own jazz classic — but in the same year (1963), he also released I Just Dropped by to Say Hello, with Illinois Jacquet as his sideman.
It is an overlooked masterpiece.
bonus trivia: Clint Eastwood (a jazz aficionado) used 4 of Hartman’s songs in the soundtrack to The Bridges of Madison County — Hartman became more popular after his death than he was when he was alive.
This was the only youtube video I could find — the second song (Nobody Home) is more of a showcase for his voice:
I also have to check out Johnny Hartman – The Voice That Is — looks pretty interesting