The song of the day for Sunday, September 6, 2015 is “Body and Soul”
About This Song
“Body and Soul” was written in 1930 by Johnny Green with lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton.
Ted Gioia, in his book The Jazz Standards, says that Body and Soul “is the granddaddy of jazz ballads, the quintessential torch song, and the ultimate measuring rod for tenor sax players of all generations. Even in the new millennium, this 1930 composition continues to serve as the cornerstone of the repertoire.” Louis Armstrong recorded the song first, followed in the 1930s by recordings from primarily white society bands, such as those led by Paul Whiteman. That said, some early recordings by jazz artists including Benny Goodman and especially Art Tatum started to cement this song as a serious jazz standard (in fact, it’s rated #1 on the jazzstandards.com website). However, the Coleman Hawkins recording from 1939 is widely acknowledged to have made the song a true jazz standard. The Hawkins recording was followed by great jazz recordings by Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Art Pepper, Dave Brubeck and many more. Fine vocal recordings include those by Billie Holiday and Tony Bennett.
About These Versions
Today we present three different versions of “Body and Soul.”
Bennett first recorded this song in 1989 for his album Astoria: Portrait of the Artist. It was arranged by Jorge Calendrelli.
His next recording was in 1994, live for the MTV Unplugged telecast and album, which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. It was arranged by Mr. Bennett and with Ralph Sharon, whose trio for album included Doug Richeson on bass and Clayton Cameron on drums.
The most recent recording is from 2011 with Amy Winehouse on Duets II, also arranged by Jorge Calendrelli. This recording won the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
I think all three of these are very good, but I’m partial to the 1994 version from the MTV Unplugged. As I’ve said many times: there’s nothing on earth more wonderful than listening to Tony Bennett singing live.
We continue our new Sunday tradition of presenting songs that Tony Bennett has recorded multiple times over his career. This lets us compare the different versions on a number of levels, from the year recorded to the arranger.
“Body and Soul,” as well as Astoria: Portrait of the Artist, is available from iTunes.
“Body and Soul,” as well as MTV Unplugged, is available from iTunes.
“Body and Soul,” as well as Duets II, is available from iTunes.