Body and Soul

(by Johnny Green)

Body and Soul is probably the most played ballad in jazz repertoire. It was written by Johnny Green in 1930 for the actress Gertrude Lawrence. It has a poignant melody, great modulations (bridge especially) and a straight-ahead 32-bar form.

As jazz improvisers and accompanists, guitarists must know this tune inside out. Sing the melody, comp the chords, create a chord melody and improvise on Body and Soul!

It is also a great tune to cover lots of ground with. The song includes  lots of “common” traits (present in most jazz standards). Working on it will improve many aspects of your playing all at once (chord melody, lyricism, accompaniment, time feel, solo building, etc.)

You should really take you time with the chord melody found on this page. It has lots of stuff! You may want to change some parts for your style (ie leave the bass notes out) or simple *leave out* some chords is they don’t make sense for you.

Have fun!

PDF of Jazz Guitar Chord Melody (with guitar TABS)

Body and Soul PDF (Chord Melody, Lead Sheet and CHORD Sheet)

The chord melody PDF contains:

  • the leadsheet (chord symbols + melody),
  • the chord melody arrangement (played in the video here),
  • a basic chord chart (basic guitar shapes for you to use.)

Video Demonstration (Chord Melody + Jazz Guitar Improvisation)

Here is the Body and Soul jazz guitar chord melody demonstrated, with some improvisation. Since the form is AABA (and its slow), I demonstrated each section separately in this video lesson.

See the PDF (with TABS) for the complete arrangement. 

Suggested Listening

Countless great versions of this tune exist. Coleman Hawkins’ 1940 recording is the most popular of the “classic” studio sessions. 

Another one of my favorite is Dexter Gordon’s rendition with the “vamp” stuff in the A sections and Coltrane changes on the bridge. It can be found on the Dexter Gordon compilation entitled “Ballads”.

Dexter Gordon - Ballads


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