DB Hall of Fame



DB Hall of Fame



Jam Session
MAY  8,  1941     Thursday “MINTON’S  PLAYHOUSE”
Hotel Cecil,  210 West 118th Street
Harlem,  NYC

  32 BARS    (AABA) Key of   D Quarter Note =   208 Time:   10:28
  17  CHORUSES  +  2-Bar Tag:
  1  chor  –  ensemble (Theme)
  2  chor  –  tenor sax (over CC riffs on last 24 bars)
  1  chor  –  trumpet (over CC riffs)
  2  chor  –  CC
  3  chor  –  trumpet
  3  chor  –  alto sax (over CC chords on last 10 bars)
  5  chor  –  CC  &  ens (collective improvisation)
  2  bars  –  CC  &  tpt (tag)

  RUDY WILLIAMS alto sax
  DON BYAS tenor sax
  KERMIT SCOTT tenor sax
  JOE GUY trumpet
  HOT LIPS PAGE trumpet
  “TEX” piano

  Jam Session Recorded by  JERRY NEWMAN

Composed by: Edgar Sampson  (lyrics added later by Andy Razaf)
  [ composition named after Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom ]
©   VALDÉS   8/31/01


Page 1:   Guitar Riffs behind trumpet solo

Page 2:   Guitar Solo:  1st Chorus

Page 3:   Guitar Solo:  2nd Chorus

Page 4:   Guitar Chords behind alto sax solo

Page 5:   Collective Improvisation:  1st Chorus

Page 6:   Collective Improvisation:  2nd Chorus

Page 7:   Collective Improvisation:  3rd Chorus

Page 8:   Collective Improvisation:  4th Chorus

Page 9:   Collective Improvisation:  5th Chorus



This jam session is a hoot.  The ensemble starts off at a good clip with the Stompin’ at the Savoy theme and right away you can tell it’s going to be a wild ride.  The horns (2 trumpets and 3 saxes) play or paraphrase the theme or riff along.   One of the tenor saxes then takes the first solo with the trumpets riffing behind him.  On Scott’s second chorus, Charlie Christian can be heard riffing in the background but most of it is not recorded clearly enough to transcribe with any accuracy.

Then, just before Lips starts his solo, CC comes in strongly and continues to riff behind the trumpet till just before he takes his own solo.  CC’s two-chorus solo has no horn riffing and is perfectly audible except for an unfortunate eight-bar recording-level drop at the beginning of the second chorus.  Trumpeter Guy follows with a three-chorus solo;  then it’s the alto sax (Williams) with three choruses on which CC turns up his amp for some beautiful, perfectly-placed staccato chords on the last ten bars of the alto’s third chorus [hard to transcribe those choppy chords but I gave it a shot].

After that is when the five choruses of collective improvisation start and it doesn’t take long before it begins to get pretty wild on the bandstand – at times it gets so chaotic that the rhythm almost flies out the window.  Charles can be clearly heard throughout with one exception:  Klook’s drums are a delight all the way through but he gets slightly out of hand at the end of the bridge on the next-to-final chorus where they obscure most everything.  Some of Charles’ contributions on the A (non-bridge) sections are various exuberant, swing-at-all-costs, single-note rhythmic sequences.  On all the bridges though, he does some serious soloing.

There’s a real shocker on the second chorus of the collective improv:  CC apparently starts playing the bridge eight bars early before he pulls up after three bars—that’s the only time I can remember him losing track like that but that goes with the nature of an all-out jam.  One of Charles’ favorite devices on the E7 portion of the bridge is found here on both the third and fourth choruses of the ensemble improv – ringing out a long, open low-E-string while he solos over it.

There are numerous passages on this jam that you won’t hear on any of CC’s other recordings – some simple, some not.  My favorite, at the moment, might be some subtle variations on the first two bars of the bridge on the fourth collective ad-libbing chorus (page 8). *

The bedlam abruptly ends with a brief tag that holds what may be Charles’ aborted thoughts of augmenting his riffs of the last four bars.

The sound quality is far from the best, but if you give this stompin’ jam a close listen a few times you will be rewarded.  What you have here is Charlie Christian and some of his colleagues having a great time and thoroughly enjoying their musically talented selves.  This is what jazz is;  this is real jazz…and a pandemoniacal hoot!

Howbeit, be mindful, this benefaction is definitely not for the lay or casual listener.

Transcribing this chaotic session has been, decidedly, the most difficult and time-consuming of all of Charles’ recordings.  At times it is almost impossible to discern between Charles, a tenor sax, or a distant shophar due to the cacophony of a multitude of horns coming and going in all the din and clatter.

Recordings from two different sources and three audio-editing software programs were used to decipher the proceedings of this session.

* More recently, the sequence at mm 9 thru 12 of the first collective chorus (page 5) became a favorite.  Somehow – CC puts a distinctly waltzy (triple) lilt to it – it reminds me of one of the most beautiful waltzes I have ever heard.  The only place I have ever heard that waltz is on, of all places, the 1943 movie Son of Dracula – 90-second tune about 6:30 into the movie when the count makes his appearance right after the clumsy demise of the madame/queen.  Don’t know the name nor the string combo that plays it;  nor does anyone else seem to know – even Shazam in its heyday was stumped.
I would be forever in the debt of anyone that can shed some light onto the identity of this particular waltz.

Issued Recordings:
  [ CD ] Masters of Jazz MJCD 189 (track 16)


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