Masters of Jazz
Introduction to the Charlie Christian Masters of Jazz series
|Charlie Christian, Volume 1 (August 19 - October 31, 1939)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 24|
|Charlie Christian, Volume 2 (November 4 - December 24, 1939)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 29|
|Charlie Christian, Volume 3 (December 2, 1939 - June 4, 1940)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 40|
|Charlie Christian, Volume 4 (June 11 - November 7, 1940)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 44|
|Charlie Christian, Volume 5 (November 7 - December 19, 1940)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 67|
|Charlie Christian, Volume 6 (December 19, 1940 - February 5, 1941)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 68|
|Charlie Christian, Volume 7 (February 10 - March 13, 1941)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 74|
|Charlie Christian, Volume 8 (March 13 - June 1941)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 75|
Recordings omitted from the Charlie Christian Masters of Jazz series listed above
|Charlie Christian, Volume 9 (September 2, 1939 - June 1941)||Masters of Jazz||MJCD 189|
Recordings omitted from the Charlie Christian Masters of Jazz series including Volume 9
A complete roster of the musicians on these recordings can be found in the SOLOGRAPHY section (listed by date)
Additional information on the CDs is in the ALBUM INDEX located in the DISCOGRAPHY section (listed by label)
Reviews of most tunes can be found on Jan Evensmos excellent
The Guitar of Charles Henry Christian Charlie (pdf format, sequenced by session date)
in the superb booklets that accompany the Masters of Jazz series CDs reviewed on this page
in the “Comments & Analysis” segment on the “Title Page” of each tune
in the TRANSCRIPTIONS section on this site
(those title pages are also accessible thru the SOLOGRAPHY and TUNES sections)
Volumes 1 thru 8
MASTERS OF JAZZ
MJCD 24, 29, 40, 44, 67, 68, 74, 75
This series of CDs, produced in France on Media 7s Masters of Jazz label, is one of the best and most complete ever issued on any artist in jazz. Eight volumes were released containing all available recordings on which Charlie Christian is prominently featured. This includes studio masters, alternate takes, radio broadcasts, and jam sessions.
Assembled between 1992 and 1994, each volume is about an hour long and comes with an excellent 28 to 40-page booklet (in French and English) containing good-quality photos, great track-by-track commentary and a discography identifying the soloists. The most-rare recordings have not all been included nor is the information quite 100% accurate but the series does have some items that had never been issued before. Most likely this is the best anthology well ever see on Charlie Christian.
An added bonus on the last four CDs is the restoration of all the recordings to their correct pitch. This had not been done before on any other LP or CD releases, including the first half of this series. I took a large sampling, especially of those tunes that I knew to be always blatantly off-key in the past, and found them all to be virtually on the exact pitch. Many thanks to those responsible for getting this batch on the right key.
Volume 1 covers the period
of August 19, 1939 through October 31, 1939.
Track 1 On his very first recording, Charlie Christian takes a 32-bar solo on his own composition Flying Home on a Camel Caravan radio broadcast from The Hollywood Bowl on August 19, 1939.
Track 2 First-time-ever issue of this September 2nd
aircheck of Star Dust from the Michigan State Fair in Detroit.
Charles 32-bar chord solo on Star Dust was dedicated to his mother, Willie Mae, who had written to him requesting that he play a song for her. He replied that he could not publicly dedicate a song to her but that whenever he played this solo it was especially for her.
Track 3 Now in New York City on September 11 at his very first studio recording session, Charles plays obbligato chords on One Sweet Letter from You behind Lionel Hamptons vocal chorus. Unfortunely, he doesnt solo on the other three tunes from this excellent Victor recording session with Hamps ad hoc orchestra that included Benny Carter, Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Tracks 4 thru 6 The legendary Minneapolis session at the Harlem Breakfast Club on September 24.
I Got Rhythm was recorded twice, both times with identical routines: 4-bar piano intro and one-chorus solos by Jerome, Christian, Hines, Jerome, Christian, Jerome. The first time the tune was recorded, as that there was plenty of recording time left, the musicians were motioned to continue but they misinterpreted the signal and ended the take at the end of the chorus. They then replayed I Got Rhythm to fill up the remaining time. Four high-energy swingin solos by CC are on these two takes.
The second take is spliced ahead of the first. Neither take is complete: take 2 is missing the last 28 bars of the last tenor sax chorus; take 1 is missing the piano intro and the first 28 bars of the first tenor sax chorus.
All previous LPs and CDs had been issued in the same configuration
until the two takes were finally issued in 1993, separated and in their entirety, under
the SUISA label on a compact disc (JZCD 379) entitled Charlie Christian:
Air-Checks and Private Recordings.
Star Dust is complete with the only two-chorus solo Charles would record on this tunea beautiful, spirited rendition.
Tea for Two is missing the first 4 bars of Charles extraordinary 8-bar chord intro and the first 8 bars of the second tenor sax solo, as are all other issues to date, but both of CCs amazing solos (64 bars and 32 bars) are intact. This was the only time CC was recorded on this tune.
[The complete Tea for
Two was issued in 1997 on a Jerry Jerome double-CD Something Old, Something New
(Arbors ARCD 19168).]
Tracks 7 thru 10 Charles first studio date with the Goodman sextet produced two takes of Fying Home (the alternate take was released as Homeward Bound on V-Disc), Rose Room and Star Dust on October 2nd for Columbia Records. CC solos for one chorus on each.
Tracks 11 & 12 The Carnegie Hall concert of October 6, 1939: Charles gets 32-bar solos on Flying Home and Star Dust.
Track 13 An October 7th aircheck of the first version of Memories of You with an 8-bar guitar solo on the minor-mode bridge.
Track 14 Rose Room broadcast from the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria on October 9. Charles is outstanding on his solo, just as he was on the previous version and all other renditions of Rose Room all beautifully melodic and totally different from each other incredible creativity.
Track 15 On October 12, CC was again invited to record with Hamptons orchestra for Victor Recordsthis time along with bassist Artie Bernstein from the Goodman sextet. Charles takes a solo on Havent Named It Yet with trumpeter Henry Red Allen on the bridge.
Two other titles were recorded at this session but with no CC solos. However, one of the two takes of The Heebie Jeebies Are Rockin the Towncould have been included here: CC plays a 4-bar chord intro and some very nice obbligati on Hamps vocals.
Track 16 On AC-DC Current, Charles gets the 4-bar intro and a couple of 4-bar breaks. Louis Armstrong is the featured guest on another tune on this October 14 Camel Caravan aircheck with the Goodman sextet & orchestra.
Track 17 From the Waldorf-Astoria on October 16: another version of Flying Home with the usual 32-bar guitar assignment.
Track 18 The first recording of Soft Winds Charles beautiful 16-bar blues composition (with 12-bar solos) on a Camel Caravan October 21st broadcast. He never soloed on his tune but he is prominent on the theme, on boogie riffs behind the vibes solo, and on the tag. Seventeen years later Soft Winds became a big hit for Dinah Washington.
Track 19 Back to the Waldorf-Astoria on October 23 for a bridge solo on Memories of You.
Track 20 Seven different blues were recorded on the two October 31, 1939 Ida Cox sessions. A total of 22 different takes (including false starts and breakdowns) are known to exist, 12 of which are available on compact disc. I agree with the producers that the entire session may not be quite appropriate in this series. Deep Sea Blues is as good a representative of this session as any of the other cuts, which have similar contributions from Charles.
[Eleven takes are on Ida Cox
Complete Recorded Works, Volume 5: 1939-1940 (Document DOCD-5651).
Some other readily
available cuts that were recorded during the time period covered by this volume (August
19, 1939 through October 31, 1939) but not included in this series are:
Flying Home from a September 9th broadcast was
omitted from this first volume. Its first-ever release was in 1995 on More
Camel Caravans, Vol. III (Phontastic NCD 8845/8846).
An October 28 aircheck of Rose Room was also left
outissued in 1997 for the first time on Camel Caravan Shows (Jazz Band EBCD
A few comments and minor corrections on the liner notes:
Page 16 Around 1928 or 1929, Charlie Christian learned guitar basics from OKC guitarist Ralph Big Foot Chuck Hamilton who used a chord technique common to that era. Charles developed his horn-like, single-string style on his own after that, before pickups and amplifiers were generally available. As the liner notes state, CCs conversations with guitarist Eddie Durham probably only concerned guitar amplification. Charles was also taught advanced music theory by Ralph Hamilton and especially by trumpeter James Simpson.
Page 17 John Hammonds recollection of Charles audition date is a few days off. Charles going-away party took place on Aug. 13, 1939 at Rubys Grill in OKC; his audition was three days later, on the 16th in L.A.
Page 18 Hammond was mistaken in assuming that Charles didnt know Rose Room. Along with Sweet Georgia Brown and Tea for Two, it was one of the tunes on which he soloed in his first public appearance when he sat in with Don Redman and his Orchestra in 1930 or 1931 at Honeys, an after-hours club run by Honey Murphy in OKC.
Page 20 The Minneapolis session was neither recorded by a disc-jockey nor for broadcast use. That one-night session was recorded by Jerry Newhouse who had recently graduated from college and was just starting out in the paper industry. Jerrys friend, Dick Pendleton, knew Jerry Jerome who was playing with Charlie Christian and the Benny Goodman band at the Orpheum Theater across the river in St. Paul. Pendleton recruited Newhouse because of his recorder and his recording experience (Newhouse recorded most of the airchecks by Basie, Goodman and a few others around that time that have been issued on LP and CD).
Pendleton and Newhouse picked up Charles and Jerome after their gig and took them to jam at the Harlem Breakfast Club, a private home that had been converted into an after-hours club. They were joined there by two local musicians: Frankie Hines on piano and 17-year-old Oscar Pettiford on bass. There was no drummer on this session; the drums that some listeners seem to hear may have been Charles tapping out the time with his foot and doing it so enthusiastically that the recorder couldnt stay on track. The recorder had to be moved to another room and the whole session was recorded with a pillow under Charles left foot. Newhouse and Pendleton took turns pointing the single microphone at the soloist. September 24, 1939 is the most probable date for these recordingsthey were definitely recorded during the Orpheum gig that ran from the 22th through the 28th of September.
Page 26 Charlie Christians guitars Charlie Christian used three different guitars regularly during his tenure with the Goodman band. Sometime during the summer of 1939 he replaced his Epiphone with a sunburst Gibson ES-150 which he bought together with an EH-150 amplifier for $150he was still making payments on it when he joined the Goodman band. In April 1940 he replaced the ES-150, which has remained the model most associated with him, with the larger ES-250 custom-made by Gibson with a natural (blond) finish and a Super 400 tailpiece.
In late February 1941, Charles took delivery of a blond, extremely-rare version of a Gibson ES-250 with an L7-style neck. All three were non-cutaway, f-hole, hollow-body guitars with carved tops and a single bar pickup that soon became known as the Charlie Christian model pickup. The ES-150 had dot inlays on the fingerboard, the first ES-250 had bowtie markings, and the rare ES-250 had a flower pot peghead and eight beautiful fretboard position markers each with their own unique design.
Page 32 (Discography) The location and date of October 9, 1939 for Rose Room are correct, however I dont believe it was part of the Young Man with a Band program but was a regular broadcast from the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Volume 2 covers the period of November 4, 1939
through December 24, 1939.
Track 1 A November 4, 1939 broadcast of the Camel Caravan produced the first version of Shivers.
Tracks 2 thru 7 Columbia recording session on November 22nd the second studio date with Goodman.
Two takes each of Memories of You and Soft Winds.
And the first recording of CCs own Seven Come Eleven.
Charles takes an extraordinary full-chorus solo on his first recorded version of Honeysuckle Rose the only time he would be featured with the full orchestra other than almost a year-and-a-half later on his own Solo Flight guitar concierto.
Track 8 Camel Caravan broadcast of Seven Come Eleven on November 25. This version has often been issued as Roast Turkey Stomp which was the original title of the tune.
Track 9 AC-DC Current from the Waldorf-Astoria on November 27.
Track 10 Dinah from a December 16 Camel Caravan broadcast. Not only is Charles solo a pure delight!as stated in the liner notesbut his amplified chord accompaniment on the vibes solo is so extraordinary that it becomes the main attraction of the chorus with the vibes playing the supporting role. On the following chorus CC sustains the essence of the melody during parts of his exhilarating solo. Were fortunate indeed that at least this aircheck version of Dinah was captured, thanks to Jerry Newhouse.
Tracks 11 thru 14 The third Columbia recording session with Goodman, on December 20.
A breakdown [CCs solo is complete] and the master take of Shivers and the master of AC-DC Current.
The liner notes are right-on concerning CCs innovative solo on Im Confessin. Im not particularly fond of Benny Goodmans shrill, up-tempo solos but I must admit he could play the melody beautifully on some of the slow ballads.
Tracks 18 thru 21 Charles second concert at Carnegie Hallthe 1939 From Spirituals to Swing concert on Christmas Eve.
Charlie Christian solos on three numbers with the Goodman sextet: Flying Home, Memories of You and Honeysuckle Rose. CC takes full-chorus solos on Flying Home and Honeysuckle Rose.
This is the last of the five times CC recorded Memories of You and its probably his best onehe gets the 8-bar minor-mode bridge on all versions and on all he double-times them with sixteenth notes. On this rendition he plays some great augmented runs over the dominant-7 harmony on the next-to-the-last bar of his solo.
Then, for three more numbers, Charles becomes part of the Kansas City Six along with Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Freddie Green, Walter Page, and Jo Jones:
Paging the Devil and Good Morning Blues are the earliest existing recordings of Charlie Christian soloing on the blues and they are two of his bestnot surprising, since here he is in the company of the best of his fellow bluesmen.
On Way Down Yonder Charles apparently was unexpectedly called on to solo and it takes half-a-dozen measures for him to turn up his amp and start his solo.
On the final item on the program, CC takes a three-chorus solo plus an
8-bar bridge on a wild jam of Oh, Lady Be Good that includes six
pianists. Unfortunately, Charles third chorus has been edited out as in
all issues including this one (actually, the edit jumps CCs solo from the 31st
bar of the second chorus of his solo to the 32nd bar of his third chorus).
A November 28 aircheck of South of the Border was
omitted from this series. It was issued in 1997 for the first time on Camel Caravan
Shows (Jazz Band EBCD 2139-2).
All other available recordings from the period covered by this volume (November 4 through December 24) are on the CD, with the exception of the AC-DC Current from December 2nd that starts off volume 3.
Comments on the liner notes:
Page 16 the erroneous statement that the December 2nd aircheck of AC-DC Current does not exist was later corrected in volume 3.
Pages 23 thru 25 (Discography) During October, November, and December 1939, the Saturday Camel Caravan broadcasts emanated from NBCs Radio City Studios. The gig at the Waldorf-Astoria was on Mondays (broadcast on the Mutual Radio Network) and on Wednesdays and Thursdays (on CBS radio).
Volume 3 covers the period of December 30, 1939
through June 4, 1940 (plus a December 2nd aircheck omitted from the previous
Track 1 The existence of the aforementioned December 2nd AC-DC Current is acknowledged and belatedly inserted here.
Track 2 CCs solo on the novelty blues Pick-A-Rib is only 23 measures long. The eleven-bar theme is repeated three times on this rendition, each time followed by an 11+12-bar solofrom the Camel Caravan broadcast of December 30.
Track 3 The poorly-recorded 2-bar piano intro and first 12½ bars of the Till Tom Special theme are missing on all issues of this December 31st Fitch Bandwagon aircheck from the Waldorf-Astoria, including this one.
Track 4 thru 6 On February 7, 1940, Charles recorded the first of his two sessions with The Metronome All Stars winners selected from Metronome magazines jazz poll. This date was recorded by Columbia Records; CC would again record with the group the following year for Victor Records.
Three takes (master, alternate, breakdown) of All Star Strut were recorded on which CC takes a 12-bar solo. The fluffed note referred to in the liner notes must be the slight time interval between the two notes in the octave Charles plays on the third beat of the first bar of his solo. There might be a fluff on take A of All Star Strut but it sounds fine to me.
Another title, on which CC does not solo, was also recorded at the session.
Track 7 thru 9 Two titles were recorded by the Goodman sextet on the same day following the Metronome session:
Count Basies 4-bar intro on the studio recording of Till Tom Special could be heard only on 78-rpm record prior to this issue. Charles gets to solo on a chorus with a piano break on the bridge.
Each of the two takes of Gone with What Wind has a 24-bar CC blues solo.
Track 10 The Goodman band has now left New York for California. A broadcast from the Cocoanut Grove at the Hotel Ambassador in Los Angeles is the source of Gone with What Wind on March 19.
Tracks 11 & 12 Columbia contracted the World Broadcasting System to record the bands studio while on the West Coast.
On April 3, the sextet recorded The Sheik of Araby (32-bar CC solo) and Poor Butterfly (8-bar CC solo).
[WBS recordings (April June 1940): Although correctly listed on this series, the dates cited on most other issues are the dates on which Columbia Records assigned the matrixwhich was usually about a week after the actual recording made by the World Broadcasting System. Only the master takes from the WBS sextet recording sessions have survived.]
Track 13 On April 6, another version of Gone with What Wind from the Cocoanut Grove.
Tracks 14 & 15 On April 10, the second WBS recording session produced two sextet titles:
I Surrender, Dear with a 16-bar CC solo and
The boogie blues Grand Slam must be the most underrated of all of Charlie Christians recordings! All of the critical assessments Ive read consider it no more than ordinary. I believe its the best of any of Charles blues solos with Goodmans ensemble: very logically constructed; melodic and bluesy. The entire second chorus is what really sets it apart; that chorus is particularly fascinating from a guitarists point of view. I never tire of playing this one on my own guitarits my favorite of his fast blues solos.
Track 16 Charles takes a 32-bar solo on The Sheik of Araby from the Cocoanut Grove on April 12th.
Track 17 Soft Winds from the Cocoanut Grove on April 13.
Track 18 First issue of this April 26 The Sheik of Araby aircheckagain from the Cocoanut Grove. The badly recorded second half of the piano solo and following partial clarinet solo have been omitted.
Tracks 19 & 20 Now from the Peacock Court at the Hotel Mark Hopkins high-atop-Nob Hill in San Francisco:
Seven Come Eleven (32-bar CC solo) on May 28.
Six Appeal (16-bar solo) on June 4.
Missing from this third volumecovering the period of
December 30, 1939 through June 4, 1940is an unissued aircheck of Poor
Butterfly from the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles which was recorded on April 27,
1940. Its the same length (2½ choruses) as the studio version of April 3rd
and has the same solo sequence, except that Lionel Hampton plays the entire second chorus
instead of splitting it with Johnny Guarnieri. Charles solo on the aircheck is
more rhythmically intense and harmonically interesting than the one from the studio.
Also omittedin this case, justifiably Just Like
Taking Candy from a Baby on which Charles is clearly audible on only eight bars of
riffs on an April 30 studio session with vocalist/tap-dancer Fred Astaire and the Goodman
sextet & orchestra.
The centerfold photo of the Benny Goodman Sextet is from December 1939 (not January 1940)their gig at the Waldorf-Astoria ended on December 31, 1939.
Volume 4 covers the period of June 11, 1940 through
part of a session on November 7, 1940.
Track 1 thru 3 June 11, 1940, WBS recording session: Six Appeal (16-bar solo), These Foolish Things (great 4-bar chord intro; 8-bar bridge solo) and Good Enough to Keep (32-bar solo).
Tracks 4 & 5 First-time issue for this incomplete [CCs 32-bar solo is not affected] broadcast of Honeysuckle Rose from the Catalina Casino on June 22nd. And, from the same gig on Santa Catalina Island, another version of Six Appeal.
Track 6 From the Catalina Casino on June 30, another version of the less-than-essential AC-DC Current.
Tracks 7 & 8 After a three-month vacation, Charles is back in New York City and is hired by Columbia to back up singer Eddie Howard on a quintet/octet led by Teddy Wilson on October 4, 1940:
On Star Dust (quintet), CC takes an 8-bar solo...and he leads off the octet with a beautiful 4-bar chord intro on Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams. Two other titles were recorded with CC on rhythm guitar.
Tracks 9 thru 13 A made-in-heaven line-up for this Oct. 28, 1940 rehearsal session at the Columbia studios: Charlie Christian and Lester Young, the two greatest soloists in jazz, with the peerless Basie rhythm section. What a pity this group did not record regularlywe can only dream of what could have beenhowever were fortunate to have these five cuts along with the three titles from the Spirituals to Swing concert recorded 10 months earlier. With the addition of Count Basie it was potentially even better than the Kansas City Six at Carnegie Hall.
On Ad-Lib Blues, Goodman was wise to lay out in the company of these blues masters. CC takes a 2-chorus solo.
I Never Knew has CC soloing on one chorus with Basie taking the bridge.
On both versions of Dickies Dream Charles was obviously prepared to take a full chorus when he was cut off after 16 bars by the clarinet, probably due to time constraints. Judging from the length of these takes, it appears that they were being considered for issue.
CC gets three choruses for his solo on the blues Wholly Cats.
Track 14 Broadcast of the Democratic Presidential Campaign Rally on November 4th at Madison Square Garden: Gone with What Wind.
Tracks 15 thru 19 The Goodman combo, now a septet, is back recording for Columbia on November 7th after the long summer layoff. Five takes of Wholly Cats, a blues with a 24-bar CC solo on each take. The long recording session continues on the fifth volume of this CD series.
Volume 4 contains all recordings from the period of June 11
through the first part of the session on November 7, 1940 with the exception of
Lil Boy Love which has a CC bridge solo recorded on 25 June 1940.
The photo of Charles with Dick Wilson shows him jamming at the famous Rubys Grill in OKC during the 3-month Goodman band layoff in the summer of 1940. Sam Hughes, alto sax, is to CCs right (cropped from this photo print); Leslie Sheffield is at the piano.
Theres a typo on the caption of the historic session photo of Charlie Christian with Lester Young, Freddie Green, Count Basie, Buck Clayton, Benny Goodman, Walter Page, and Jo Jones: the date should read 28 October 1940.
Volume 5 resumes with the Goodman Sextet studio
session of November 7, 1940 and continues through to the first part of another on December
Remainder of the session from November 7, 1940:
*Royal Garden Blues all takes (-2, -3, -1)
*As Long As I Live both takes
*Bennys Bugle all 6 takes, but
[Released in its entirety in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian Volume 9.]
The three sextet tunes recorded from The Make Believe Ballroom radio show of November 19:
The CD concludes with the first tune recorded by the sextet on the December 19th studio session:
*Breakfast Feud all 5 takes, but...
The only item missing from the time period covered by this volume is an unissued We the People CBS aircheck of the sextet playing Flying Home said to have been recorded on December 10, 1940.
Volume 6 proceeds with the
December 19, 1940 session and goes on through to February 5, 1941.
Remainder of the studio session from December 19:
*I Cant Give You Anything But Love all 3 takes (-1, -3, -2)
*Gone With What Draft 3 takes (-3 thru -1)
[The breakdown was released in its entirety in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian Volume 9.]
The tune is based on Honeysuckle Rose chord changes with a 12-bar cadenza added in the middle. The cadenza is actually a direct adaptation of Eddie Durhams 12-bar intro with Jimmy Lunceford & His Orchestra on Avalon with was recorded for Decca on September 30, 1935. GWWD was retitled Gilly around 1950.
Then the January 15, 1941 studio session with the sextet and another go at:
*Breakfast Feud all 4 takes, but...
[Both takes were reissued in their entirety in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian Volume 9.]
Breakfast Feud has to be the most spliced up tune in recorded history! From two to five of CCs solos have been gleaned from this and the December 19 session and spliced together in about a dozen different combinations and, more often than not, issued that way on LP and CD. At least here theyre only shortened and not spliced which could have caused even more confusion. The 2nd take from this session was the one that came out on the original Columbia 78-rpm record (none of the takes from the December 19 were originally released on 78).
The January 15th session continues:
*On the Alamo the only known take
*I Found a New Baby both takes
*Gone With What Draft 3 takes (-3 thru -1) [An additional breakdown is said to exist]
The second year that Charles records with the Metronome All Star Band (winners of the annual Metronome magazine Jazz Poll)on January 16 for Victor:
*One OClock Jump (aka All Star Jump)
Then comes the renowned Profoundly Blue all-blues session with the Edmond Hall Celeste Quartet recorded for Blue Note on February 5, 1941...on which CC plays unamplified guitar:
*Jammin In Four
*Edmond Hall Blues
*Profoundly Blue both takes
The interplay of Christian and Crosby, both in rhythm and duet, is what makes this session so memorable. Hall is also at his best. Although Meade Lux Lewis has some good solos, his celeste is often distractingit should have been toned down some.
There may exist a recording from the time period covered by volume 6 that is not included here: a December 25, 1940 sextet aircheck of Wholly Cats.
Volume 7 starts out with an
aircheck from February 10, 1941 and goes on to part of the studio session of March 13,
Four airchecks: three from Whats New?The Old Gold Show and one (February 16) from the Fitch Bandwagon:
*Wholly Cats February 10
[A version of Flying Home from this date is listed under April 14 on volume 8.]
*Gone With What Draft February 16
*Breakfast Feud February 17
*Gone With What Draft February 24
Two tracks from Whats New?The Old Gold Show broadcast on March 3, 1941:
*Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)
*Solo Flight (Chonk, Charlie, Chonk)
The studio recordings on March 4 of:
*Solo Flight both takes and both of them are extraordinary
Another Whats New?The Old Gold Show aircheck, on March 10:
Next is the first CD issue of the extraordinarily fantastic Waitin for Benny pre-rehearsal jam session that was most fortuitously recorded while Charlie Christian, drummer Dave Tough, pianist Johnny Guarnieri, tenor saxophonist Georgie Auld, and trumpeter Cootie Williams were waiting for Benny Goodman and bassist Artie Bernstein to show up for a studio session on March 13, 1941. I treasure these recordings as much as I do the ones from Mintons a couple of months later.
It wasnt really a jam session as such. Columbias recording techs just happened to catch Charlie Christian experimenting and jamming somewhat on his own with only Dave Tough (the best regular drummer that Goodman ever had) backing him much of the way.
Guarnieri makes many outstanding contributions on all of the tunes, while the two horns sporadically drop in and out during the 21 minutes that were preserved from this occasion. At times Auld seems a bit lost, now and then clashing with Charles astonishing rhythmic concept .
This is one of the few instances in recorded history where we can get a glimpse of true creative genius at play. Christian is traveling here in his own musical world, totally immersed in his music and seemingly enraptured by his creation.
It doesnt get any better than this!
It starts out with Charlie...
*A Smo-o-o-oth One
His interest peaks again when Guarnieri intros a more interesting...
*I Cant Believe That Youre In Love With Me
When things start winding down, Aulds tenor suggests...
*I Hadnt Anyone Till You
*Blues in B
After five incredible choruses of blues by Charlie Christian with brilliant piano by Guarnieri, the other members of the sextet must have arrivedthe engineers cut off the exquisite revelry to begin recording the commercial version of...
*A Smo-o-o-oth One all 3 takes
with which this penultimate volume ends.
As far as I know, the entire pre-rehearsal jam has only been issued once beforein 1981 on Blu-Disc LP T-l006 entitled The Un-Heard Benny Goodman, Vol. 3. Part of the session has been issued often though. Blues in B was regularly issued on LP and also on CD. Usually, a companion track called Waitin for Benny was issued with it. This contained A Smo-o-o-oth One preceded by the not-as-noisy part of the free improvisation that Ive called Riffin Around (as it was named on the Blu-Disc LP). The CD under review doesnt list the free improvisation separately.
These are the only known renditions of I Cant Believe... and I Hadnt Anyone... recorded by Charlie Christian.
The March 13, 1941 studio
session continues on this eighth and final volume which ends with the final recordings in
June of 1941.
Remainder of the March 13 studio session:
*Good Enough to Keep both takes
Followed by a series of airchecks from Whats New?The Old Gold Show:
*Good Enough to Keep March 17
*Wholly Cats April 7
*Breakfast Feud April 14
*Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider April 14
*Flying Home listed as April 14, but actually from February 10.
*Song of the Islands April 28
*Flying Home May 5
In May of 1941, being far more advanced musically than almost everyone else in jazz, Charlie Christian was the natural leader in any musical setting in which he participated. Even the egocentric Benny Goodman treated Charles with kid gloves, first ensuring that the guitarist was persuaded to take the path he wanted the rest of the sextet to take.
Probably due to Charlies quiet, unassuming nature, this quality has not been emphasized in discussions of his influence. His leadership, however, has not only been attested to by the musicians that played with him at the time, but is also aurally quite evident between takes on the studio recordings as well as on the jam sessions that were recorded, such as the one in the previous volume and the next sessions.
Thanks to Jerry Newman and his recorder, we are indeed fortunate to have the opportunity to hear the very birth of modern jazz with Charlie Christian leading the pioneers of the bebop movement at the Harlem after-hours clubs Mintons Playhouse and Clark Monroes The Uptown House.
In the excellent notes to this CD, the proposition is introduced that the pianist on the next two tracks is Kenny Kersey and not Thelonious Monk as has previously been commonly thought. Since Ive always suspected as much, I have to agree with that rational premise although Id always hoped it was the earliest Monk on recordtheyre excellent piano solosbut its not Monk.
Theres a substantial amount of crowd noise on the first two tunes from these sessions (particularly bothersome on Topsy) that does not exist on Jerry Newmans original acetates but first appeared on the 1947 Vox 78-rpm album. Its in this volume and a few subsequent CD releases that have used the 78s for their sourceor lifted them from Masters of Jazz.
*Topsy (aka Swing to Bop or Charlies Choice or In the Hall of the Mountain King)
*Stompin at the Savoy
*Honeysuckle Rose (aka Up on Teddys Hill)
*I Got Rhythm (aka Down on Teddys Hill or Rhythm-a-ning)
The previous four tracks are all from Mintons; the next two, from Monroes, are not quite as goodprimarily due to the rhythm section not being up to the modern standards of the one at Mintons. But Charlie Christian pushes them along with some excellent solos, particularly on Stompin....
*I Got Rhythm (aka Guys Got to Go) [Mislabeled Lips Flips on this CD; that surtitle belongs to the following tune.]
*Stompin at the Savoy (aka Lips Flips or On with Charlie Christian)
A little-known seventh track featuring Charlie Christian was
also recorded by Jerry Newman, at Mintons on May 8. It has never been
releasedvery closely hoarded by a very few collectors. Its a 17-chorus
rendition of Stompin at the Savoy that includes two solo choruses
by CC plus five final choruses of collective improvisation with Charles as the focal
The final tracks on the Masters of Jazz series are three airchecks from the Monte Proser Dance Carnival in Madison Square Garden:
*Bennys Bugle May 28
*Rose Room June 6
*Solo Flight June
(Chonk, Charlie, Chonk)
Not included here is another tune from the MSG broadcasts which
may have been the last recording of a Charlie Christian solo. An incomplete
aircheck of Stompin at the Savoy was recorded some time in June
1941 containing a piano intro, a chorus of the melody on which CC plays some beautiful
SA-VOY chords, followed by an extraordinary guitar solo that was distressingly
cut off after 22 bars.
I like to think of this as Charles last solo only because of the way in which such an innovative creation was prematurely cut offmuch as his life was so shamefully snuffed out while his artistic genius was still in ascension. Actually, either of the other two June recordings could have been his last. In any case, judging from the last few months of recordings, there was every indication that Charlie Christians creativity was indeed gaining momentum with no sign of CC nearing his peak.
There are a few more items not in this last volume that may have
some CC participation with the sextet during the period covered by the last volume:
This 8-volume CD series has my highest possible recommendationit is my all-time, number-one Desert Island choice. With these CDs you can have almost all of the available major works by Charlie Christian in chronological sequence. I sincerely want to express my gratitude to Claude Carrière and Jean-Claude Alexandre for producing the most essential series of recordings yet released.
I would also like to bring to your attention the availability of a box set containing the first four volumes of this series. The individual CDs are identical to the single-issues but theyre all wrapped up in a very attractive packagethis is indeed the way to get them. The Masters of Jazz catalog number for the box set is MJCD 9004. A second box set for the remaining four volumes, unfortunately, is no longer planned for release.
Track listings of the Media 7 series can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label Masters of Jazz.
The Masters of Jazz CD reviews have been
revised and updated on July 29, 1999; April 7 & December 15, 2001
LeoValdes © 1999
[Volume 9 of the Masters of Jazz
series (released October 2001) is reviewed
THE MISSING MJCD RECORDINGS
The following are those Charlie Christian recordings that were not
included in the original Masters of Jazz 8-volume
* [ In addition to those tracks
identified above, in October 2001,
Revised and updated on July 29 &
September 30, 1999; April 7 & December 15, 2001
LeoValdes © 1999
Volume 9 contains many of
the recordings that were not included in the original Masters of Jazz 8-volume
Track 1 Star Dust 2
September 1939 Camel Caravan aircheck 2:27
Track 2 Flying Home 9
September 1939 Camel Caravan aircheck 3:21
Track 3 I Got Rhythm Take 1 9 September
1939 Jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club in
Track 4 I Got Rhythm Take 2 9 September
1939 Jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club in
Track 5 Tea for Two 9
September 1939 Jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club
in Minneapolis 5:00
Track 6 Rose Room 28
October 1939 Camel Caravan aircheck 3:37
Track 7 South of the Border 18
November 1939 Camel Caravan aircheck 3:32
Track 8 Oh, Lady Be Good 24
December 1939 Jam session at From Spirituals to
Track 9 Poor Butterfly 27
April 1940 Aircheck from the Cocoanut Grove at the
Hotel Ambassador in L.A. 1:13
Track 10 Just Like Taking Candy
from a Baby 30 April
1940 Columbia mx WCO 26809
Track 11 Lil Boy Love 25
June 1940 Columbia mx WCO 26982
Track 12 Bennys Bugle 7
November 1940 Columbia mx CO 29030-Z
and CO 29030-1 13:27
Track 13 Gone with What
Draft 19 December
1940 Columbia mx WCO
Track 14 Breakfast Feud 15
January 1941 Columbia mx CO
Track 15 Breakfast Feud 15
January 1941 Columbia mx CO
Track 16 Stompin at the
Savoy 8 May 1941 Jam
session at Mintons Playhouse 10:21
Track 17 Stompin at the
1941 Aircheck from the Monte Proser Dance Carnival 1:46
Definitely another absolutely essential issue from the Masters of Jazz Charlie Christian ~ Complete Edition series.
Track listings of the entire series can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the Masters of Jazz label.
Reviewed by LeoValdesDecember 20, 2001
RECORDINGS THAN REMAINED UNISSUED ON THE MASTERS OF JAZZ SERIES
AFTER THE RELEASE OF VOLUME 9
After the release of the first eight volumes of Media 7s Masters of Jazz Charlie Christian ~ Complete Edition series, the producers used the CD Reviews on this site to compile an inventory of those recordings they had not included and determined there was enough material for another volume. The results were the ninth volume containing those recordings that they were able to obtain.
Listed below are those tunes which remained unissued after the 29 October 2001 release of the final Volume 9 (MJCD 189) of the Masters of Jazz series. Some are recordings on which Charles does not solo but nonetheless made a significant contribution with intros, riffs, chords, and/or obbligati. (The producers of the series chose not to include the first item and some from the Lionel Hampton and Ida Cox sessions on which CC doesnt solo.)
One never-issued tune from an aircheck was released on 17 November 2001 on the Encore label (see the last session listed below).
Most of the others had never been issued before until the 24 September 2002 release of
Sonys box set which included Columbia alternate takes.
Not included here are unissued airchecks (listed in the Unissued Recordings page) nor those recordings with CC exclusively on rhythm guitar.
LeoValdes © December 2003
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