John Coltrane: Body and Soul

Track

Body and Soul

Artist

John Coltrane (tenor sax)

CD

Coltrane's Sound (Atlantic 8122-71984-2)

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Musicians:

John Coltrane (tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Steve Davis (bass), Elvin Jones (drums).

Composed by Johnny Green, Edward Heyman, Robert Sour & Frank Eyton

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Recorded: New York, October 24, 1960

Rating: 80/100 (learn more)

Coltrane recorded only a few standards when he was with Atlantic Records, and "Body and Soul"—a warhorse for tenor players—had to be among them. But paradoxically it's featured on a record that was only released four years after being recorded, at a time when Coltrane had gone way beyond his style of 1960. In fact, Coltrane doesn't sound too interested by this tune. In his intro, Tyner drags it towards the modal mood his leader increasingly preferred, instead of tackling the complex harmonies. And indeed the only real solo is played by the pianist in the middle of the track. Coltrane merely contents himself with toying around the melody at the beginning and end, in a strangely unconcerned way.

Reviewer: Thierry Quénum

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  • 1 r // Oct 13, 2008 at 04:20 PM
    I have to disagree with the reviewer's take on this track - or maybe just correct errors. The fundamental chord progression of the 'A' section is intact, Trane just puts a dominant pedal (Ab) under it all (a la Naima), and decorates the Eb min chord with a descending seventh montuna-style. You can easily hear the resolution to Db in the third bar, same as when Hawk played it. There are just some chromatic planeing chords mixed in with the traditional ones. The only real change is in the final cadence, where it's F-aug (wholetone) over Ab (which is an interesting way to use the WT scale on a V chord, Monk would use the other WT scale). In the bridge, it's exactly as everyone else plays it, except that he substitutes the Giant Steps variation for the usual run of ii-V's. The point is, it's very tonal - not modal, and at least as "complex" the usual way of playing it. And Trane is as engaged as on this as any other track; don't know what he's listening to. McCoy is also excellent, BTW. I'll grant that the coda is kinda strangely drawn out, but hardly the throwaway that the reviewer implies. It does have a nice ascending M3rd motif as a foil to the Giant Steps idea. This is a very influential recording, and Dexter Gordon later used this arrangement to play B&S (Live at the VV). Highly recommended!