Body and Soul Once Banned

Body and Soul Once Banned


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Gordon’s huge tone is reminiscent of Coleman Hawkins, but his slow, deliberate,

behind-the-beat, lyrical phrasing is a take-off from Lester “Prez” Young . . .

Coleman Hawkins                                                                                                               Dexter Gordon



 Coleman Hawkins  Lester Young  Sarah Vaughan  Charles Mingus  Betty Carter  Cassandra Wilson  Dexter Gordon  John Coltrane  

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“Body and Soul” Once Banned from Radio

Leading Ballad for Jazz Instrumentalists

Reviewed by Mtume ya Salaam & Kalamu ya Salaam

–from Breath of Life


1939. A very important event in jazz history. Coleman Hawkins cut a version of “Body and Soul” that established the song as the leading jazz ballad for instrumentalists. From Louis Armstrong and Lester Young to John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, nearly every great jazz musician has taken a turn at blowing “Body and Soul.” The song is also the archetypal torch song, a staple with singers that range from lounge acts and pop stars who want to demonstrate their range, to hardcore jazz vocalists such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and the singers featured here. It is unusual to find a song that both instrumentalists and vocalists favor. Coleman Hawkins’ 1939 recording is often credited with establishing the tenor saxophone as the major instrument of jazz. Before Hawk, jazz was trumpet dominated, thanks in no small part to Louis Armstrong. Although it simply sounds like a regular jazz song, Hawkins’ version was a startling and innovative recording at the time of its release. For one thing, the majesty of Coleman’s sound was captivating. His burly, rough hewn tone would be the dominant sound of the saxophone until the advent of Lester Young. Secondly, while most instrumentalists favored embellishing the melody, Hawkins built his solo on variations based on the harmonic structure. Although at that point bebop was a number of years off, Hawkins reading of the standard prefigured the bebop approach. At least several hundred singers have taken a turn at “Body and Soul.” Few have approached the song with an instrument equal to the “Divine One,” aka Sassy Sarah Vaughan. Flawless over four octaves, she ranged from baritone to soprano. But beyond the beauty of her voice there was the incomparable artistry of her phrasing. A trained pianist who held down the keyboard chair in the Billy Eckstine Orchestra, when it came to improvising, Sassy was wings compared to the plodding feet of most vocalists. Even though Sassy could emote with the best and could whoop and holler, she became the progenitor of the style of singing that became known as “cool.” Sarah’s expert backing trio of Joe Malachi on piano, Joe Benjamin on bass and Roy Haynes on drums offers sterling support. On the instrumental side, “Body and Soul” became a favorite for swing musicians who combined melodic variations with strong rhythmic accents in their playing. The Charles Mingus version illustrates this trend in spades given that the two main soloists are trumpeter Roy “Little Jazz” Eldridge and saxophonist Eric Dolphy. Eldridge plays with a blustery, broad tone that is drenched in blues tones and connotations. This epitomized a Louis Armstrong-derived, swing approach. The pyrotechnics of bebop replaced swing. The major improviser of bebop was alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. Dolphy’s dazzling technical proficiency superbly mirrored Charlie Parker’s sound and approach, and in the second half of Dolphy’s solo, Dolphy gives us a taste of the oncoming avant garde. It would take a forward-thinking composer and bandleader like Charles Mingus to give us strong examples of both the way things used to be as well as the sound of the future all within one performance.

Betty Carter represents the masterful sound of young musicians who grew up on bebop but swang in a cool style. Betty and her trio (Norman Simmons on piano, Lisle Atkinson on bass, and Al Harewood on drums) do the near impossible: they swing hard, hard, hard at a very, very slow tempo. And on top of that, Betty takes to an even higher level the bebop penchant to quote other songs while improvising. In a moment that is both profound and comic, Betty segues seamlessly from “Body and Soul” to another standard “Heart and Soul.” It’s a brilliant interpretation taken from Betty Carter’s album, Finally. The hard bop movement that followed bebop is exemplified by Dexter Gordon and his Coltrane-influenced version of “Body and Soul.” Gordon borrows a chord sequence and rhythm pattern from Coltrane who introduced a new way to play “Body and Soul” on one of Coltrane’s most famous albums, My Favorite Things. Even though Gordon was older than Coltrane and had also served as an influence on the younger musician, Dexter charges out the gate and produces a long, 17-minute performance. Coltrane had popularized quarter-hour and longer improvisations. Gordon’s band of George Cables on piano, Rufus Reid on bass and Eddie Gladen on drums is right with Gordon every second of the way. Interestingly, Gordon’s huge tone is reminiscent of Coleman Hawkins, but his slow, deliberate, behind-the-beat, lyrical phrasing is a take-off from Lester “Prez” Young, whom Billie Holiday nicknamed “Prez” (short for “president”) to honor Young’s position as the leader of a totally different approach to the tenor saxophone. Gordon in his own way combines the past and the future. Gordon even ends using another Coltrane stylistic development when he plays an unaccompanied cadenza as a coda at the end of the selection. Singer Cassandra Wilson, with a voice as deep as Sarah Vaughn’s and an improvising sense as agile as Betty Carter, also uses a Coltrane approach as a launching pad for her interpretation of “Body and Soul.” Particularly noteworthy is Wilson’s employment of long tones that float over the churning rhythms. At time she even sounds like the clear, high tones of a soprano saxophone, an instrument newly popularized by John Coltrane. Also of interest is the combo format favored by these musicians: lead vocalist or instrumentalist supported by a piano-bass-drum trio. In Wilson case, the band consists of Rod Williams on piano, Kevin Bruce Harris on bass and Mark Johnson on drums. The final version is the most radical interpretation of all. It’s, no surprise, John Coltrane working with a sextet of Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison and Donald Rafael Garrett on bass (Garrett uses his bow throughout), and Elvin Jones on drums. Coltrane’s instantly identifiable tone takes flight atop a bubbling rhythm section that percolates and churns rather than swings. Coltrane veers in and out of the song’s melody like a race car driver swerving through heavy traffic. You can hear the obvious bebop references in McCoy Tyner’s fleet solo, but Tyner also plays peek-a-boo with the song’s structure. The third soloist, Pharoah Sanders, completely jettisons the standard melodic/harmonic basis for improvisation. Sanders focuses on texture and sound as he takes a solo that soars like a bird above the turbulence of rough waters. Although he understands the standard harmonic structure, Sanders takes the Coleman Hawkins approach of multi-note runs to an outward-bound conclusion. Sanders has a big tone akin to Hawkins’ sound but Sanders also has a free approach that is as radical in the Sixties as Hawkins was in 1939. The performance ends with Coltrane offering a summation that includes a brief solo cadenza. From Coleman Hawkins in the late Thirties to John Coltrane  in the mid-Sixties, “Body and Soul” is the chosen vehicle for the expression of innovative, and even radical, variations on traditional approaches to jazz improvisations that end up being classic covers of an American songbook standard that in the process became a jazz classic.—Kalamu ya Salaam

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History in miniature       

This week’s Cover reminds me of Kalamu’s great post from August ‘05, the one on “Summertime.” Usually, when Kalamu breaks down a jazz standard, I really like one or two of the versions, I kind of dig another one or two and I could take or leave the rest. But in the case of these covers of “Body And Soul”—as with “Summertime”—I like all of them.

Listening to the way the instrumental versions developed and evolved as the decades passed is like listening to a history of jazz in miniature. And the vocal versions are just amazing. Sarah Vaughan is flawless. Cassandra Wilson is as heavenly as she always is. Betty Carter is a soulful technician—an oxymoron, but accurate, I think.

Great, great post. Wonderful music.—Mtume ya Salaam

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Body & Soul

My heart is sad and lonely For you I sigh, for you, dear, only Why haven’t you seen it? I’m all for you, body and soul

I spend my days in longin’ And wond’ring why it’s me you’re wrongin’ I tell you, I mean it I’m all for you, body and soul

I can’t believe it, it’s hard to conceive it That you’d turn away romance Are you pretending? It looks like the ending Unless I could have one more chance to prove, dear

My life a wreck you’re making You know I’m yours just for the taking I’d gladly surrender / myself to you, body and soul

Source: BluesforPeace  

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History of “Body and Soul”

While in London, Hollywood songwriter/conductor Johnny Green wrote “Body and Soul” for Gertrude Lawrence. Jack Hylton & His Orchestra recorded the ballad first in Britain, but it was Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (Jack Fulton, vocal) who popularized it. Their recording hit the charts on October 11, 1930, and held the number one spot for six weeks. . . .

On October 15th, 1930, “Body and Soul” appeared in the Broadway revue, Three’s a Crowd. The show would run for 272 performances with Libby Holman performing the song as Clifton Webb danced. “Body and Soul” was one of the revue’s standout songs, and Holman’s recording rose to number three on the recording charts.

Although instantly popular, “Body and Soul” was banned from radio for nearly a year because of its suggestive lyrics, which leave little doubt as to their sexual nature. In spite of, or possibly because of, its racy lyrics, an astounding number of renditions made the charts in the 1930s and 1940s . . .

Out of all the hit recordings of “Body and Soul,” Coleman Hawkins’ is the best remembered. . . . In 1973, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences inducted Hawkins’ 1939 recording into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The original recording is on Coleman Hawkins’ Body and Soul CD. An interesting reworking of the tune can be heard as the title cut on Hawkins’ 1944 Rainbow Mist recording on which he lays a new melody over the chord changes of “Body and Soul.” – JW

Although Louis Armstrong was the first jazz artist to record “Body and Soul” in 1930, his version clung close to the song’s written melody. In 1935, Armstrong’s New Orleans colleague Henry “Red” Allen’s version begins to plumb the improvisational possibilities of the tune. In a recording made for the indie label Commodore in November, 1938, tenor saxophonist “Chu” Berry explores the changes in a manner continued a year later by his mentor Coleman Hawkins. But it is the blistering, double-time solo by Roy Eldridge on Berry’s recording that steals the show and clearly points the direction that the trumpet would take in the work of Dizzy Gillespie.—Chris Tyle, Jazz Musician and Historian

Source: JazzStandards

posted  18 February 2007

mingus 5 tet in belgium   / Freedom

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Beneath the Underdog

By Charles Mingus

“Mingus was something else. A pure genius. I loved him.” Miles Davis; “The jazz world has seen its fair share of compelling autobiographies but none to rival the quality of Beneath the Underdog. A shocking and brilliant book. Five stars.” Q; “There has never been an autobiography like Beneath the Underdog. A riveting work of highly subjective reminiscences and tortured self-analysis.” Richard Williams; “[Mingus’] autobiography teeters between derangement and genius.” Time Out; “An outlandish, brilliant autobiography.”—Newsweek

Mingus by Mingus. From the shabby roadhouses to fabulous estates, from the psychiatric ward of Bellevue to worlds of mysticism and solitude, these are the celebrated, demonic, anguished and, above all, profoundly moving memoirs of the great jazz bassist and compose Charles Mingus. First published in 1971, Beneath the Underdog is a masterpiece of memoir, a riveting insight into one of the giants of twentieth century music.—Publisher, Canongate Books

Mingus, Sue Graham. 2002. Tonight at Noon: A Love Story. New York: Pantheon Books.

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


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#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

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#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

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#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

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#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power–and the enormous risks–of the dollar’s worldwide reign.  The Economy

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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update  6 July 2008 




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Related files: “Body and Soul”  / Nina Simone / Bob Marley /  Alice Coltrane /  James Brown  / Staple Singers  /  Police Brutality and Rappers  / Luther Vandross 

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