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Body & Soul-The Greatest Records Ever


The Greatest Records Ever:  Eddie Jefferson's, “Body & Soul”

This series is an opportunity to reflect on some of the amazing music that has come into our lives. From the popular and celebrated to the unknown, obscure and/or ignored, we will touch some music that you know and love and surely some works that you loathe and/or hate. It is very fair to say that there is no such thing as The Greatest Record Ever. As Jazz listeners and lovers, we know that there are only ”The Greatest Record Ever….This Week!

Back in the day, people, places and/or things were “Hep.” The word, Hip emerged out of the “Hep.” One of the architects of Hep was a gentlemen named Eddie Jefferson: a former dancer, who as a witness to so much Jazz history, decided to tell his side of the story in song. His invention is called vocalese: a method of performing and writing lyrics directly to the ebb and flow of the source song's instrumental solos. Invented by Jefferson, but made popular by vocalists like King Pleasure and Lambert Hendricks and Ross, the result is always a fluid, careening, emotionally unpredictable roller coaster ride.

Eddie Jefferson's album, “Body & Soul” released by Prestige Records in 1968, some 20 years after Jefferson had developed his vocalese approach, is a treasure chest. Assisted by Bebop veterans James Moody on tenor sax, Dave Burns on trumpet  and Barry Harris on piano, Jefferson skillfully takes on such tunes as Charlies Parker's “Now Is The Time,” Miles Davis' “So What” and the title selection; “Body & Soul” based on the saxophone solo of Coleman Hawkins' popular 1939 version of the song. If there is such a thing as a standout it's “There I Go, There I Go Again” based on saxophonist, James Moody's, “Moody's Mood For Love” which in turn is based on the standard, “I'm In The Mood For Love.”

Much like Satchel Paige who enters major league baseball at 40 years of age and wins rookie of the year, Eddie Jefferson in 1968 is a powerful, mature singer. Not gifted with the greatest voice, Jefferson makes up for it with warmth, a persistent presence and perpetual now-ness, as well as the glaring moral authority of a lifetime hepster. Much like the stride and slide of a dancer, Jefferson's vocal approach dares you to take a listen and say that he ain't the baddest!!

Easily one of the best musical experiences on wax, plastic or mp3. It definitely qualifies as one of “The Greatest Records Ever...This Week!

Written By: Homer Jackson – Director, Philadelphia Jazz Project

To check it out more, search online for “Eddie Jefferson” or try the following locations:

Scientist of Vocalese-Article
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy-On Youtube
There I Go, There I Go Again On Youtube
Filthy McNasty On Youtube
So What! On Youtube

If you have a greatest record ever story, share it. Please send your story to us at


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Tags : TheGreatestRecordsEver EddieJefferson KingPleasure JamesMoody LambertHendricks&Ross Body&Soul ColemanHawkins Hep Moody'sMoodForLove I'mInTheMoodForLov


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