Jay Harris


Many years ago, Jay Harris was reading a book entitled “Reading Jazz” and came upon a story about “Body and Soul.” It mentioned that the song had over 3,000 recorded versions, more versions than any other song. This triggered an idea. It might be fun to listen to a radio program in which nothing but “Body and Soul” were played … lots of versions by different jazz and pop artists.

This led Jay to think that it might be something he himself might do. He was an entertainment lawyer by profession and had been for over 30 years. He has also produced shows on and Off-Broadway … “Side Man”, “Never Gonna Dance” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” being the best known. He was also a longtime board member of the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards.

Thanks to his son, he had access to recording equipment. He put together a script and recorded a sample show which he called “One Great Song.” In it, he examined just one song – “One Great Song” – played many different ways. He also included a bit about the history of the song and the composer.

That was in 1998. In 2004, a friend who knew about his demo show was speaking to Susan Kennedy, the host of WMNR’s “Big Band Hall of Fame.” Susan expressed interest in it, mentioned it to the managers at WMNR and that chain of events led to the half-hour series that was first broadcast on Saturday nights at 6 pm on February 12, 2005.

Jay enjoyed researching the music and the song’s incidental history and recorded 100 shows. He passed away in September 2007 and at the request of his family his program continues to air on WMNR.

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