Q & A with Film Director Robert Philipson to follow Film on March 3
Body & Soul: An American Bridge
Saturday, March 3, 2018 7:30 p.m.
Carmel High School Performing Arts Center
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.
According to director Robert Philipson, “Why use the song ‘Body and Soul’ to explore the multi-faceted relations between Blacks and Jews in American popular song? I could have chosen any number of songs by Jewish composers: ‘My Favorite Things’ (Richard Rodgers), ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ (Jerome Kern), ‘Cheek to Cheek’ (Irving Berlin).
“They’ve all become much-recorded jazz standards, mostly performed by black musicians. “Body and Soul,” however, is THE most recorded jazz standard of all time – over 3000 versions have been put to vinyl or tape. Knowing that, I began researching the history of the song, and lo! the modalities of Black/Jewish interrelations poured forth. 80% of the Great American Songbook can be attributed to Jewish composers, but while the biographies of Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin are well known, little has been written about Johnny Green, who penned three or four well-known jazz standards in his 20s, then entered a fantastically successful career (5 Oscars) as a composer and music supervisor for the movies.
“My own interest in Black/Jewish interrelations stems from my time as a Professor of Comparative Literature when I taught courses in African American literature. Being Jewish myself, I was continually struck by the parallels and differences of the two minorities in America and especially by the heightened awareness that the two peoples had of one another.”
Tickets are $12.00 for the film. Reception tickets at 6:30 p.m. $20.00. Music by Carmel High School jazz musicians at the reception. Free film tickets for Carmel Unified Middle and High School students with ID at the door.
Tickets available at www.carmeljff.org
Presented by the Carmel Jewish Film Festival.
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