Here’s a beautiful version of a hauntingly beautiful song to send us into the weekend. The wistful words and music were written by Billy Strayhorn, who manages an uncanny melding of lyrical and musical phrases. The fact that most of it was written when Strayhorn was just 16 is, well, crazy.
It is performed here by Johnny Hartman, with John Coltrane on saxophone and McCoy Tyner on piano, a combination of talent impossible to match. If I ever drew up a personal Top Ten list of favorite recordings*, this one would be on it. It comes off a 1963 album recorded by Hartman and Coltrane that some experts call the greatest album ever made. The fact that it was recorded in a single day, with most songs laid down in a single take, still astounds, particularly in an era when musicians are often treated as a producer’s plaything.
Sink into “Lush Life,” and let it sink into you.
* (I started thinking about it, and my personal nominations to round out the Top Five jazz cuts would be Ellington’s “Take the A Train,” “Real Compared to What” by Les McCann and Eddie Harris, Miles Davis’ “Stella by Starlight” and Billie Holiday’s “Lover Man.”)