Body and Soul is my favorite song right now. Several artists have recorded the tune and here is my list in order of preference: Carmen McRae – Live at Newport, Esperanza Spalding – singing in Spanish Cuerpo y Alma, and the instrumental rendition from virtuoso saxophonist John Coltrane. [tweetmeme source=”ileane” service=”ow.ly]
Carmen is one of the greatest jazz singers of all time and Esperanza is new on the scene and surely destined for similar fame and fortune. John Coltrane was something else entirely.
Like many artists who aren’t truly appreciated until they’re gone it was 40 years after his death (1967), when in 2007 the Pulitzer Prize Board awarded Coltrane a posthumous special citation, for his “masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz”.
Wow, that’s a mouthful, 40 or more years overdue, yet an appropriate, awesome accolade. I can’t say enough about how his music has affected me. It has become part of my psyche. I rise in the morning with the sound of his horn dancing around in my head, before I even realize that I am awake. His outpouring of harmony inspired me to write song lyrics for the first time in my life.
Coltrane’s unique brand of saxophone playing is referred to as “sheets of sound”. When I first heard the technique I asked a friend “who else is playing sax on that tune ?”. Remarkably, there was no other sax player. Only Coltrane. Man, how did he do that?!
Over the last few years I have come to learn why Trane’s music is in a class all by its self. You’ll never be bored listening to this great body of work. There’s classic jazz, smooth jazz, avant-garde, be-bop, ballads, spirituals and plenty more. John dedicated the 40 short years of his life to perfecting his craft. I’m hooked, so I’m going to finish listening to The Wise One again before I turn in. In the morning I want to hear Afro Blue, and of course Body and Soul.