Release Date: 08/13/02
All Jazz Guitarists are in his debt. Here's why.
As demonstrated here, Charlie Christian hugely influenced the transition from Swing to BeBop. After realising the electric guitar's melodic potential, he introduced rhythmic and harmonic complexities that bridged swing and modern jazz. Virtually every jazz guitarist that followed is in his debt. He was Dallas-born in 1916 into a musical family - his mother played piano in silent movie theaters. When Charlie was two the family moved to Oklahoma City. After playing in a family band Charlie moved on. By 1937 he was playing the electric guitar and leading a jump band in Oklahoma City. In 1939, promoter John Hammond was in Oklahoma City for Benny Goodman's first Columbia sessions and caught Charlie's act. Hammond talked a reluctant Goodman into auditioning Charlie and Goodman recruited him. He was a sensation - in weeks established as the first great jazz soloist of the electric guitar. He was a fixture of Goodman's sextet for the next two years. The amplified guitar enabled Charlie to produce single-note, lightly picked melodies which were based on riffs that, like tenor saxophonist Lester Young, had an easy Kansas City feeling. He could also achieve 'sustain', making the guitar sound like a voice or a horn. Charlie moved with Goodman to New York. After working nights with the sextet, Charlie would look for jam sessions. He sniffed out Minton's in Harlem - which would become the cradle of bebop. At Minton's Charlie played more freely than with Goodman - his fellow musicians included Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and Kenny Clarke. Charlie impressed them all by improvising long lines that emphasized offbeats, and by using altered chords. Jam sessions could last until 4am. This demanding lifestyle probably wore Charlie out. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in the spring of 1941 and died a year later. Here we find Christian in his pomp - mainly in Goodman formations, but also jamming with Lester Young and 'Hot Lips' Page.
|Label: Jsp Records|
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