On April 13th, WordPress released Version 4.5 and this one pays homage to the legendary tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.
Born in 1904, Colman Hawkins was the first noted musician to take the sax and make it a jazz instrument. He also nudged jazz out of Swing and into Be-Bop. You might call him the King of Jazz Saxophone.
Coleman Hawkins was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri and as a child he played piano and cello before moving to sax at the ripe age of nine. He played his first gig with Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds in 1921 and in 1923 he moved to New York City and joined Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra where he stayed until 1934, getting influenced by fellow band member Louis Armstrong.
Along the way he acquired the nicknames “Bean” and “Hawk.” He was also an early participant in interracial recording sessions with Mound City Blue Blowers and Benny Goodman.
Then, along came “Body and Soul.” The song was written in 1930 by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton with music by Johnny Green. Written for the British actress Gerturde Lawrence, Body and Soul was first performed in the US by Libby Holman in the 1930 Broadway revue Three’s a Crowd.
From there, “Body and Soul” became a huge hit. Louis Armstrong was the first to record a jazz version, but it became such a standard that everyone started recording it.
But, in 1939 Coleman Hawkins put an indelible mark on”Body and Soul” and in the process he established a precursor to Be-Bop during the Swing era.
In the song, Hawkins ignores almost all of the melody, and uses only the first four bars in a recognizable melody. His use of improvisation over the tune’s chord progression constitutes almost the entire song.
The sound was so ground breaking that in 2004, the Library of Congress entered it into the National Recording Registry.
Later,”Body and Soul’s” lyrics were rewritten by the Manhatten Transfter to honor Hawkins.
“Don’t you know, he was the king of saxophones
Yes indeed he was;
Talkin’ ’bout the guy that made it sound so good
Some people knew him by the Bean
But Hawkins was his name
He sure could swing and play pretty too
Sounds good to me — should sound good to you
I love to hear him playing Body and Soul
Very pleasing to the ear
When I first heard it on the record
I just stopped– right there,
Sounded like a band of angels in the sky,
And I have never ever heard a sweeter tone
In fact I pay no ‘ttention to the saxophone
‘Til Coleman Hawkins came along and spoke to everyone
Saying better listen won’t you hear me,
While I play for you”
Here’s Hawkins playing Lover Man:
During the Be-Bop era of the 1940s and 50s, Hawkins played with and influenced everyone: Thelonious Monk, Oscar Pettiford, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, J. J. Johnson, Fats Navarro, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane, Red Allen and Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, and Alvin Stoller.
And if you’re really digging his sound, here’s a nice long video combining sessions from 1962 and 1964:
Unfortunately, in the 1960s, Hawkins played less and drank more, and he eventually died of liver disease in 1969 at the age of 64.
“He sure could swing and play pretty too.”
WordPress 4.5 “Coleman”
As a version, does WordPress 4.5 live up to the stature of Coleman Hawkins? How could it? It would have to totally reinvent the blogging form to do that.
Still, Version 4.5 does have some nice features.
Instead you see a drop down where you can place your external link or enter the search term for an internal link. Hit the arrow to Apply and move on!
Live Responsive Previews
Want to see how your site looks on a pad or phone. Put down that device and head to Customizer.
At the very bottom of the left panel you’ll see icons for three devices. Click the right two and see your page writ small. Pretty cool!
I haven’t tried this yet since all my themes already supports logos, but I assume this feature allows themes that don’t to do.
Create a horizontal line with “—-” and Enter. That’s nice.
Changes under the hood
Smart Image Resizing
Generated images now load up to 50% faster with no noticeable quality loss. It’s really cool.
Script Loader Improvements
Better support has been added for script header/footer dependencies. New wp_add_inline_script() enables adding extra code to registered scripts.
Better Embed Templates
Embed templates have been split into parts and can be directly overridden by themes via the template hierarchy.
jQuery 1.12.3, jQuery Migrate 1.4.0, Backbone 1.2.3, and Underscore 1.8.3 are bundled.
A band of angels in the sky
Again, there’s a lot to enjoy with WordPress 4.5 “Coleman,” but it’s unlikely there will be songs written about this version.
What do you think? Are you liking WordPress 4.5 or are you yawning?
Let me know in the comments.
And speaking of WordPress jazz versions, the film Miles Ahead opens this weekend. It’s the story of jazz great, Miles Davis – WordPress Version 1.0. Dig it!