Charles Champlin's fine tribute to John Green was appropriate and apt, but it fell slightly short of doing justice to this great man of American music ("Baton Passes to a Member of the Harvard Class of '28," June 7).
Aside from the seminal role played by the full corpus of Green's many songs, one of them alone, "Body and Soul," was the most potent background force in the development of jazz during the 1940-50 decade, the Gillespie-Parker era that gave history be-bop.
In fact, the recording of that haunting tune made by Coleman Hawkins helped launch a thousand creative soloists; mastery of its melodic and harmonic intricacies became for the struggling jazz artist a cherished improvisatory peak, the goal which, once reached, marked a personal triumph of mind and talent over fingers.
No jazz performer who developed his craft during that fertile time felt truly finished until "Body and Soul" had been bitten, long-chewed and thoroughly digested. And once ingested, there it remained, to color every other melody encountered during a lifetime, joining the 12-bar blues as a veritable archetype of jazz feeling and form.