"Soul Eyes" is a composition, with lyrics, written by Mal Waldron. It is a 32-bar ballad that takes the song form ABAC, and is written in 4/4 time. It was first recorded on March 22, 1957, for the album Interplay for 2 Trumpets and 2 Tenors. One of the tenor saxophonists on that recording was John Coltrane, who brought the song back to attention by recording it in 1962 for his album Coltrane, when he had become more famous. This was only the second ever recording of the song, which has since become "part of the basic repertory of jazz performers" – a jazz standard. Waldron wrote the piece with Coltrane in mind: "I liked Coltrane's sound and I thought the melody would fit it".
|Composition by Mal Waldron|
|from the album Interplay for 2 Trumpets and 2 Tenors|
|Recorded||March 22, 1957|
Since these early versions, the song has been recorded hundreds of times. Further notable versions include those by Art Farmer on a 1991 album named after the song; Stan Getz with Kenny Barron on the album People Time in the same year; and the composer with David Murray in 2001 on the album Silence. The first vocal version of "Soul Eyes" was recorded by Laurie Antonioli in 1984, on her duo record with George Cables, Soul Eyes. Waldron met Antonioli in Munich in 1981 and gave her his handwritten lyrics, telling her no one had recorded the song vocally yet. Another vocal version is on Vanessa Rubin's debut album in 1992; another comparatively rare vocal version, featuring Jeanne Lee, is available on Waldron's 1997 album entitled Soul Eyes. In 2016 it became the title track of Kandace Springs' debut album.
- Ratliff, Ben (December 6, 2002) "Mal Waldron, 77, Composer of the Jazz Ballad 'Soul Eyes'". The New York Times.
- Levine, Mark (1995) The Jazz Theory Book. Sher Music. p. 388.
- Gioia, Ted (2012) The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. Oxford University Press. pp. 388-390.
- Wilson, John S. (November 13, 1981) "Mal Waldron back in a Solo Concert" The New York Times. p. C17.
- "Soul Eyes". AllMusic. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- New Pittsburgh Courier (April 08, 1992) "Vanessa Rubin Steps out Strong as Jazz Vocalist with 'Soul Eyes' Album".
- Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (2004) The Rough Guide to Jazz (3rd ed.). Rough Guides. p. 824.
- Fordham, John (July 7, 2016). "Kandace Springs: Soul Eyes Review". The Guardian.