Today In Jazz

Body and Soul

October 11

On this day in 1939, Coleman Hawkins recorded one of the most influential and popular jazz solos ever played: Body and Soul. Having just returned from several years in Europe, Hawkins was thought to be past his prime (he turned 35 that year) and to have superseded by his disciples (Chu Berry/Ben Webster/Don Byas) and/or his main rival, Lester Young.

Hawkins took his band into the studio, performed three songs that were not at all bad, and then nonchalantly played this variation on a popular song from nine years earlier.

It’s a variation on a theme worthy of Hawkins’ idol, J.S. Bach. It continues to reverberate in every jazz performance to this day.