Body & Soul



Trailer for “Body and Soul: An American Bridge” from Shoga Films on Vimeo.

z-body-sqSHORT SYNOPSIS Out of all the cross-cultural encounters that have resulted in the richness of American popular music, none has been so prominent or so fraught with fraternity and conflict as the relationships between African Americans and American Jews. Body and Soul: An American Bridge aims to tease out the strands of this cultural knot by focusing on the early performance history of the jazz standard, “Body and Soul,” one of the most recorded songs in the jazz repertoire. Composed by Jewish composer Johnny Green in 1929, the song was introduced on Broadway by Jewish torch singer Libby Holman and ushered into the jazz canon by Louis Armstrong the following year. Four years later, the successful recording of “Body and Soul” by a behind-thescenes Benny Goodman trio which included the Black pianist Teddy Wilson, led to the historic smashing of the color barrier in popular music.



  • 1930: Johnny Green first composes the song “Body and Soul”.
    1930: “Body and Soul” first recorded by Jack Hylton & His Orchestra in Great Britain.
    October 11, 1930: Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra’s version of “Body and Soul” hit the carts and held the number one spot for six weeks.
    October 15, 1920: Libby Holman begins performing “Body and Soul” in the Broadway revue, Three’s a Crowd. The show ran for 272 performances.
    October 1930: Louis Armstrong is the first jazz musician to record “Body and Soul” but the song didn’t hit the charts until 1932.
    1935: The Benny Goodman Trio with Goodman on clarinet, Gene Krupa on drums and Teddy Wilson on piano, records “Body and Soul”.
    1937: The Benny Goodman Trio perform s together for the first time publicly, thus breaking the color line in jazz.