The performance history of the most recorded song in jazz reveals the influences, creations and conflicts between Blacks and Jews in American popular song.
Director: Robert Philipson
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-the- scenes Benny Goodman trio, which included the Black pianist Teddy Wilson, led to the historic smashing of the color barrier in popular music.
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