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Charlie Christian

It can be said without exaggeration that virtually every jazz guitarist that emerged during 1940-65 sounded like a relative of Charlie Christian. The first important electric guitarist, Christian played his instrument with the fluidity, confidence, and swing of a saxophonist. Although technically a swing stylist, his musical vocabulary was studied and emulated by the bop players, and when one listens to players ranging from Tiny Grimes, Barney Kessel, and Herb Ellis, to Wes Montgomery and George Benson, the dominant influence of Christian is obvious.

Charlie Christian's time in the spotlight was terribly brief. He played piano locally in Oklahoma, and began to utilize an amplified guitar in 1937, after becoming a student of Eddie Durham, a jazz guitarist who invented the amplified guitar. John Hammond, the masterful talent scout and producer, heard about Christian (possibly from Mary Lou Williams), was impressed by what he saw, and arranged for the guitarist to travel to Los Angeles in August 1939 and try out with Benny Goodman. Although the clarinetist was initially put off by Christian's primitive wardrobe, as soon as they started jamming on "Rose Room," Christian's talents were obvious. For the next two years, he would be well-featured with Benny Goodman's Sextet; there were two solos (including the showcase "Solo Flight") with the full orchestra; and the guitarist had the opportunity to jam at Minton's Playhouse with such up-and-coming players as Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, and Dizzy Gillespie. All of the guitarist's recordings (including guest spots and radio broadcasts) are currently available on CD. Tragically, he contracted tuberculosis in 1941, and died at the age of 25 on March 2, 1942. It would be 25 years before jazz guitarists finally moved beyond Charlie Christian. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: On The Air

1. I Got Rhythm (Guy's Got To Go)

3. Rose Room

4. Stardust

5. South Of The Border

6. Dinah

7. AC-DC Current

8. Till Tom Special

9. The Sheik Of Araby

11. Ad-Lib Blues

12. Wholly Cats

13. Airmail Special

14. Solo Flight (Chonk, Charlie Chonk)

15. Benny's Bugle

16. Honey Suckle Rose

17. Six Appeal

20. Good Enough To Keep (Airmail Special)

21. Gone With What Wind

x

Track List: Radioland 1939-1941

1. I Got Rhythm

2. Good Morning Blues

3. Pagin' The Devil

4. Guy's Got To Go

5. Way Down Yonder In New Orleans

6. One Sweet Letter From You

7. Stardust

8. Tea For Two

9. Haven't Named It Yet

10. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams

11. Profoundly Blue

12. Jammin' In Four

13. Oh, Lady Be Good

14. Stardust

15. Lips Flips

16. Ad Lib Blues

Comments

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Sweet sweet playing!!
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Solid!
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Wow! Great stuff--jumpi n & groovin muscians with him too --can anyone name me the trumpet man on this Radioland album and other personnel ?
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Where would jazz guitar players be without Mr. Christian... . . .
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SWEET !!
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Look in Google for George Beauchamp.
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Eddie Durham invented the amplified guitar?
"An electrically amplified guitar was developed by George Beauchamp in 1931. Commercial production began in late summer of 1932 by Electro-Pate C o m p a n y Los Angeles, a partnership of Adolph Rickenbacker , Paul Barth and George Beauchamp, the inventor. The wooden body of the prototype was built by Harry Watson, a craftsman who had worked for the National Resophonic Guitar Company (where the men met). By 1934 the company was renamed Rickenbaker. "
Was Mr. Du
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a magician and mechanic
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rhedges38
After 40 years of playing guitar I'm finnally getting around to Jazz guitar. I've always wondered what the heck these guys were doing with those chords in the days of the 'Big Band'
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this is the only time I'm a devout Christian
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died at 25. unbelievable . most of us won't grow old enough to even emulate charlies' fluidity and style.
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I'll comment again, this guy was so f-n cool,
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one of the greatest I have ever heard. no.6 on my top 100 list

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