Genesis of an Arrangement(How to create something new using stuff that is already made)


In 1979, legendary vocal group Manhattan Transfer released the recording, Extensions, containing the song "Body and Soul." This Phil Mattson arrangement was the end result of a unique transformation of a tune that was originally composed in 1930 by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton and Johnny Green. Tracing its evolution enables us to learn some techniques in arranging and provide for us some options in our own creative ventures!




1. First let's listen to a performance of the original tune, here rendered by the great Ella Fitzgerald:



2. On October 11, 1939 tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins recorded a two chorus performance of the popular standard, which he had been performing at Kelly's Stables. A landmark recording of the Swing Era, recorded as an afterthought at the session, it is notable in that Hawkins ignores almost all of the melody, only the first four bars are stated in a recognizable fashion.



3. Vocalese refers to the technique of setting lyrics to melodies that were originally part of an all-instrumental composition or improvisation. Eddie Jefferson was inventor and most prolific practitioner of vocalese. On his 1968 album, "Body and Soul," he sets the Coleman Hawkins 1939 recording to lyrics:



4. The great Phil Mattson provided the fully harmonized version of Eddie Jefferson's vocalese to the popular quartet Manhattan Transfer for their 1979 album "Extensions," which also included contributions by Jon Hendricks on Joe Zawinul's "Birdland":



This is a fine example of how to create a unique arrangement without having to start from scratch! There are countless examples of groups performing updated versions of celebrated recordings. So be thrifty and use what is already out there!!!!