DB Hall of Fame

SOLO  FLIGHT

THE  CHARLIE  CHRISTIAN  LEGACY

DB Hall of Fame


 

CD REVIEWS

 

The most significant Compact Discs featuring Charlie Christian are reviewed on these pages.

The eight volumes in the Charlie Christian Masters of Jazz series are the most important of the lot
and, accordingly, receive track-by-track commentary.
A recap of CC recordings that were omitted from the series is at the end of the Masters of Jazz reviews,
followed by reviews of other CD releases of consequence.

Eight compact discs were released in March 2001 on two Charlie Christian 4-CD sets on the Definitive Records label
and have received a thorough review.

The long-awaited ninth volume in the Charlie Christian Masters of Jazz series was released in October 2001
and is reviewed below  (after The Missing MJCD Recordings recap).


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or

click on the title of the CDs listed in the following table
to read the reviews

CD Title

Label

Catalog Number

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 Tour de Force:  The Small Groups—Live Encore 7001
Charlie Christian:  Air-Checks and Private Recordings Suisa JZCD 379
“The Rehearsal Sessions”  1940-1941   Featuring Charlie Christian Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2013
More Camel Caravans, Vol. III Phontastic NCD 8845/8846
The Harlem Jazz Scene  1941 Venus TKCZ-36013
TKCZ-79502
Camel Caravan Shows Jazz Band EBCD 2138-2
EBCD 2139-2
Jerry Jerome:  Something Old, Something New Arbors ARCD 19168
The Lionel Hampton All Star Sessions, Vol. 2:  Hot Mallets Avid AMSC 612
Ida Cox:  I Can’t Quit My Man Affinity AFS 1015
Ida Cox:  Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:  1939-1940 Document DOCD-5651
From Spirituals to Swing Vanguard 169/71-2
Charlie Christian:  The Genius of the Electric Guitar SME SRCS 9612
Charlie Christian – Complete Studio Recordings Definitive DRCD11176
Charlie Christian – Complete Live Recordings Definitive DRCD11177

 

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)

 


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CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

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 7’s 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 we’ll 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.

 


CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 1

1939

MASTERS OF JAZZ   MJCD 24

[ France,  1992;  20 tracks – 67:55 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 24

 

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.
[
Reissued in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9 with much-improved sound.]

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 Hampton’s vocal chorus.  Unfortunely, he doesn’t solo on the other three tunes from this excellent Victor recording session with Hamp’s 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.
[
Reissued in their entirety in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

“Star Dust” is complete with the only two-chorus solo Charles would record on this tune—a 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 CC’s 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).]
[
Reissued in its entirety in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

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 Hampton’s orchestra for Victor Records—this time along with bassist Artie Bernstein from the Goodman sextet.  Charles takes a solo on “Haven’t 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 Town”could have been included here:  CC plays a 4-bar chord intro and some very nice obbligati on Hamp’s 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 CoxComplete Recorded Works, Volume 5:  1939-1940 (Document DOCD-5651).
 The remaining cut, take 2 (of 4) of “One Hour Mama,” is on Mean Mothers (Rosetta RR 1300).
]

 

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:
“Opus �” (a novelty tune from a September 23 aircheck at the Orpheum Theater in St. Paul and not yet available on CD);
Two takes of “The Heebie Jeebies Are Rockin’ the Town” (from the October 12th Hampton studio session);
Both titles have CC chord intros and prominent chord accents and/or obbligati, but no solos.

“Flying Home” from a September 9th broadcast was omitted from this first volume.  It’s first-ever release was in 1995 on More Camel Caravans, Vol. III (Phontastic NCD 8845/8846).
[
Reissued in March 2001 on Charlie Christian—Complete Live Recordings (Definitive DRCD11177).]
[
Reissued in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

An October 28 aircheck of “Rose Room” was also left out—issued in 1997 for the first time on Camel Caravan Shows (Jazz Band EBCD 2138-2).
[
Reissued in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

 

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, CC’s 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 Hammond’s recollection of Charles’ audition date is a few days off.  Charles’ going-away party took place on Aug. 13, 1939 at Ruby’s Grill in OKC;  his audition was three days later, on the 16th in L.A.

Page 18 – Hammond was mistaken in assuming that Charles didn’t 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 “Honey’s,” 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.  Jerry’s 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 couldn’t 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 recordings—they were definitely recorded during the Orpheum gig that ran from the 22th through the 28th of September.

Page 26 “Charlie Christian’s 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 $150—he 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 don’t 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.

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 2

1939

MASTERS OF JAZZ   MJCD 29

[ France,  1992;  21 tracks – 69:12 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 29

 

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 CC’s 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 notes—but 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.  We’re 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 [CC’s solo is complete] and the master take of “Shivers” and the master of “AC-DC Current.”

The liner notes are right-on concerning CC’s innovative solo on “I’m Confessin’.”  I’m not particularly fond of Benny Goodman’s 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 Hall—the 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 it’s probably his best one—he 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 best—not 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 CC’s solo from the 31st bar of the second chorus of his solo to the 32nd bar of his third chorus).
[The recording with Charlie Christian’s complete solo was issued in August 1999 for the first time on From Spirituals to Swing (Vanguard 169/71-2), a 3-CD box set (regrettably, without the 8-bar piano intro).]
[Finally, in March 2001, the entire take was released on Charlie Christian—Complete Live Recordings (Definitive DRCD11177).]
[Reissued in its entirety in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

 

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).
[Reissued in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

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 NBC’s 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).

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 3

1939 – 1940

MASTERS OF JAZZ    MJCD 40

[ France,  1993;  20 tracks – 60:57 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 40

 

Volume 3 covers the period of December 30, 1939 through June 4, 1940 (plus a December 2nd aircheck omitted from the previous volume).

Track 1 – The existence of the aforementioned December 2nd “AC-DC Current” is acknowledged and belatedly inserted here.

Track 2 – CC’s 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 solo—from the Camel Caravan broadcast of December 30.

Track 3 – The poorly-recorded 2-bar piano intro and first 12� 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 magazine’s 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 Basie’s 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 band’s 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 matrix—which 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 Christian’s recordings!  All of the critical assessments I’ve read consider it no more than ordinary.  I believe it’s the best of any of Charles’ blues solos with Goodman’s ensemble:  very logically constructed;  melodic and bluesy.  The entire second chorus is what really sets it apart;  that chorus is particularly fascinating from a guitarist’s point of view.  I never tire of playing this one on my own guitar—it’s 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” aircheck—again 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 volume—covering the period of December 30, 1939 through June 4, 1940—is an unissued aircheck of “Poor Butterfly” from the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles which was recorded on April 27, 1940.  It’s the same length (2� 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.
[Partially issued for the first time (minus the poorly-recorded first 1� choruses) in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

Also omitted—in 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.
[Released in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

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.

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 4

1940

MASTERS OF JAZZ   MJCD 44

[ France,  1993;  19 tracks – 58:56 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 44

 

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 [CC’s 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 regularly—we can only dream of what could have been—however we’re 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 “Dickie’s 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 “Li’l Boy Love” which has a CC bridge solo recorded on 25 June 1940.
[Released in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

The photo of Charles with Dick Wilson shows him jamming at the famous Ruby’s Grill in OKC during the 3-month Goodman band layoff in the summer of 1940.  Sam Hughes, alto sax, is to CC’s right (cropped from this photo print);  Leslie Sheffield is at the piano.

There’s 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.

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 5

November – December 1940

MASTERS OF JAZZ   MJCD 67

[ France,  1994;  16 tracks – 62:55 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 67

 

Volume 5 resumes with the Goodman Sextet studio session of November 7, 1940 and continues through to the first part of another on December 19, 1940.

Remainder of the session from November 7, 1940:

*   “Royal Garden Blues”     all takes   (-3 thru -1)

*   “As Long As I Live”     both takes

First time on CD for master take -1.
CC takes his 8-bar solo on the bridge—each is a unique gem.

*   “Benny’s Bugle”     all 6 takes,  but…

Take 5 is missing the trumpet intro and the theme riffs (12 bars)—kind of a relief after hearing it consecutively so many times.
[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:

*   “Benny’s Bugle”

*   “Wholly Cats”

*   “Honeysuckle Rose”

CC’s solo on this recording of “Honeysuckle Rose” has a particularly inventive bridge.

The CD concludes with the first tune recorded by the sextet on the December 19th studio session:

*   “Breakfast Feud”     all 5 takes,  but...

The 3rd take is incomplete—it starts with CC’s complete solo but then the conclusion of the 4th take is spliced after his solo. The only part of this take that has ever been released is the 20 bars of Charles’ solo; not even the 4-bar refrain that precedes his solo has seen the light of day.
However, the next track contains the 4th take in its entirety, issued for the first-time-ever complete and unspliced... finally!

 

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.

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 6

1940 – 1941

MASTERS OF JAZZ   MJCD 68

[ France,  1994;  22 tracks – 69:25 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 68

 

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 Can’t Give You Anything But Love”     all 3 takes    (-1, -3, -2)

Each take has an excellent CC 16-bar solo.

*   “Gone With What Draft”     3 takes   (-3 thru -1)

Missing is a breakdown that includes the cadenza on which CC solos, but it’s no substantial loss;  his solo on this tune is “written”—sounds great, but it’s the same on all takes.
[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 Durham’s 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...

The 3rd take is truncated at both ends—it contains only the 4-bar refrain, the 8+12-bar CC solo, then fades out on the subsequent refrain.

The 4th take is also incomplete; it fades out on the refrain after CC’s solo.

[The complete 3rd and 4th takes have been issued only on Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2013, The Rehearsal Sessions (in 1993).]
[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 CC’s 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 they’re 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

Another 8-bar gem by CC on his solo—very relaxed and melodic.

*   “I Found a New Baby”     both takes

First time on CD for take -2.
Exceptional CC solos on each, some of his best work with the sextet, especially take -1.

*   “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 O’Clock Jump”   (aka “All Star Jump”)

A 12-bar CC blues solo

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”

Five consecutive solo choruses of fast blues by CC featuring the fewest rests he ever took on record!

*   “Edmond Hall Blues”

No solos, but CC is prominent playing rhythm.

*   “Profoundly Blue”     both takes

CC’s four-bar intros followed by his three-chorus solos on each take of this very slow blues are the highlights of the session.  They are virtually duets with the much underrated bassist Israel Crosby, who is outstanding on the entire outing.

The solos on both takes are a real joy to play on the guitar along with CC’s solo on “Paging the Devil” (from the 1939 Christmas Eve From Spirituals to Swing Carnegie Hall concert) which is another exceptional Eb blues.

*   “Celestial Express”

Again no solos;  this time however, Charles can be heard playing 24 bars of impeccable boogie riffs on each of two solos by clarinetist Hall.

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 distracting—it 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.”

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 7

February – March 1941

MASTERS OF JAZZ   MJCD 74

[ France,  1994;  13 tracks – 54:09 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 74

 

Volume 7 starts out with an aircheck from February 10, 1941 and goes on to part of the studio session of March 13, 1941.

Four airchecks:  three from What’s New?–The Old Gold Show and one (February 16) from the Fitch Bandwagon:

*   “Wholly Cats”     February 10

The intro & first 4 bars are missing, but I believe that’s the way it was originally recorded off the air.

[A version of “Flying Home” from this date is listed under April 14 on volume 8.]

*   “Gone With What Draft”     February 16

This is the first time this particular version has ever been issued in any format.   Unfortunately, a very poor copy was used.  The first 2 bars of CC’s intro are missing and the entire track is very scratchy.  At first I thought that it might be a version unknown to me, but I checked it against my copy which has relatively good sound and it is the correct one.

*   “Breakfast Feud”     February 17

Only an 8-bar solo, rather than the regular 8+12-bars.

*   “Gone With What Draft”     February 24

Yet another version of the tune that Benny Goodman years later renamed “Gilly.”

Two tracks from What’s New?–The Old Gold Show broadcast on March 3, 1941:

*   “Six Appeal”   (“My Daddy Rocks Me”)

Missing the 4-bar CC chord intro, as are all other issues.

*   “Solo Flight”   (“Chonk, Charlie, Chonk”)

The first CD issue of the first recording of Charlie Christian’s wonderful composition for orchestra, arranged by Jimmy Mundy.  This one’s an abbreviated version.

The studio recordings on March 4 of:

*   “Solo Flight”     both takes —and both of them are extraordinary

Take -1 was the one that Columbia issued on 78-rpm.  It hit # 1 on the Billboard Harlem Hit Parade on March 11, 1944.  Presumably due to its commercial appeal, a few jazz critics have not regarded it very highly; but when “Solo Flight” was first released it blew away every guitarist within earshot, including the very top jazz guitarists—even to this day.

To briefly quote just a couple of jazz guitar greats:

Jimmy Raney — “When I first heard Solo Flight, I almost fainted.”

Wes Montgomery — “Solo Flight was the first Charlie Christian record I heard.  Boy, that was too much!  I still hear it!  He was it for me...”

Another What’s New?–The Old Gold Show aircheck, on March 10:

*   “Flying Home”

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 Minton’s a couple of months later.

It wasn’t really a jam session as such.  Columbia’s 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 doesn’t get any better than this!

It starts out with Charlie...

*   “Riffin’ Around”

with 176 bars of free improvisation in the key of A before he segues into his version of “Love is Just Around the Corner”:

*   “A Smo-o-o-oth One”

It’s been written that this is the actual creation of this tune.   Possibly...but it’s more probable that it was already scheduled for this date.   The rest of the musicians seemed to recognize it immediately and jumped right in as soon as CC started playing it.

He plays one chorus of the theme with chords on the bridge, a few riffs, then drops out, just popping back in for a few absolutely swinging bars a couple of times after that.

His interest peaks again when Guarnieri intros a more interesting...

*   “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me”

The recording is interrupted � of the way through the first chorus then curiously resumes 20 bars into another chorus of the same tune at an appreciably slower tempo.  Charles is improvising on the melody, using eighth notes, for the first 25 bars before the cut-off.  When the recording resumes, he is toying with the harmony and rhythm—playing mostly sixteenth notes and lots of triplets.

Auld has both some very good moments and, understandably, some difficult instances on this one.  Cootie plays along with CC for more than three choruses, then drops out from the jam altogether after this tune.  CC’s inventiveness really starts to shine here and it increases as the proceedings continue with a surprising 9-bar intro of...

*   “Rose Room”

CC’s two solos (1 + 3 choruses) here are unlike those on any of his other versions of “Rose Room”—with a heavy blues imprint, very melodic, and particularly with a distinctly different rhythmic lilt which was touched off in his intro.

When things start winding down, Auld’s tenor suggests...

*   “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You”

and they’re off on an extraordinarily beautiful, short rendition of that tune.
In the middle of the third chorus, Guarnieri calls out:

“Let’s play the blues”

“Charlie, Charlie, let’s play the blues in B”

*   “Blues in B”

is one of the most wonderfully fascinating blues I’ve ever heard!  Indescribable.

After five incredible choruses of blues by Charlie Christian with brilliant piano by Guarnieri, the other members of the sextet must have arrived—the 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 before—in 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 I’ve called “Riffin’ Around” (as it was named on the Blu-Disc LP).  The CD under review doesn’t list the free improvisation separately.

These are the only known renditions of “I Can’t Believe...” and “I Hadn’t Anyone...” recorded by Charlie Christian.

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 8

March – June 1941

MASTERS OF JAZZ   MJCD 75

[ France,  1994;  18 tracks – 70:26 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 75

 

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

Later renamed “Air Mail Special.”

Followed by a series of airchecks from What’s New?–The Old Gold Show:

*   “Good Enough to Keep”     March 17

*   “Wholly Cats”     April 7

*   “Breakfast Feud”     April 14

Missing the piano intro, as are all other issues.

*   “Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider”     April 14

Another magnificent solo by CC—a 32-bar masterpiece.
This was the the only time he was ever recorded playing on “Ida....”

*   “Flying Home”     listed as April 14, but actually from February 10.

*   “Song of the Islands”     April 28

CC plays a four-bar intro followed by 16 bars of embellished melody—unusual and lovely.

*   “Flying Home”     May 5

First-time CD issue for this date.

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 Charlie’s 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 Minton’s Playhouse and Clark Monroe’s 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 I’ve always suspected as much, I have to agree with that rational premise although I’d always hoped it was the earliest Monk on record—they’re excellent piano solos—but it’s not Monk.

There’s a substantial amount of crowd noise on the first two tunes from these sessions (particularly bothersome on “Topsy”) that does not exist on Jerry Newman’s original acetates but first appeared on the 1947 Vox 78-rpm album.  It’s in this volume and a few subsequent CD releases that have used the 78s for their source—or lifted them from Masters of Jazz.

*   “Topsy”      (aka  “Swing to Bop”  or  “Charlie’s Choice”  or  “In the Hall of the Mountain King”)

The recording starts at the sixth bar of the “first” chorus with Charlie Christian already in full flight, followed by five more choruses of the most inventive solo ever!
A trumpet and a piano solo are followed by another three wonderful choruses by CC.

*   “Stompin’ at the Savoy”

Two 3-chorus solos by Charles—were it not for the previous track, this would have qualified as the best single recording of all time.
An added bonus is the clearly audible rhythm guitar, especially on the piano solo.

*   “Honeysuckle Rose”     (aka  “Up on Teddy’s Hill”)

Four absolutely marvelous choruses by CC.
Plus a later, stunningly swinging 8-bar bridge solo—when he comes in, it makes everyone else sound like they’re not swinging at all.  Charlie Christian’s rhythmic drive is truly incredible.

*   “I Got Rhythm”     (aka  “Down on Teddy’s Hill”  or  “Rhythm-a-ning”)

This rendition has rarely been issued compared to the other tracks from these sessions.
The recording starts in mid-chorus for 2� choruses of CC, with a surprising quote from “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” at the very beginning of his last solo chorus.

The previous four tracks are all from Minton’s;  the next two, from Monroe’s, are not quite as good—primarily due to the rhythm section not being up to the modern standards of the one at Minton’s.  But Charlie Christian pushes them along with some excellent solos, particularly on “Stompin’....”

*   “I Got Rhythm”     (aka  “Guy’s Got to Go”)     [Mislabeled “Lips Flips” on this CD;  that surtitle belongs to the following tune.]

Two choruses by Charles.
As on all other issues, the first six beats of his second chorus are repeated (a flaw in the original recording).

*   “Stompin’ at the Savoy”     (aka  “Lips Flips”  or  “On with Charlie Christian”)

Two-and-a-half CC solo choruses.

A little-known seventh track featuring Charlie Christian was also recorded by Jerry Newman, at Minton’s on May 8.  It has never been released—very closely hoarded by a very few collectors.  It’s 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 point.
[This “Stompin’ at the Savoy” was issued for the first time ever in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

The final tracks on the Masters of Jazz series are three airchecks from the Monte Proser Dance Carnival in Madison Square Garden:

*   “Benny’s Bugle”     May 28

Two lively blues choruses by CC;  his best on this tune.

*   “Rose Room”     June 6

A particularly interesting 24-bar solo by CC (the ensemble takes the last 8 bars of the chorus)—reminiscent of the March 13 pre-rehearsal jam, rather than of other occasions with the sextet.
It’s missing the first bar of CC’s 4-bar intro but is otherwise complete.

*   “Solo Flight”     June
     (“Chonk, Charlie, Chonk”)

With the full orchestra, of course.  Comparable to the studio versions, suffering only from the lesser sound quality.

 

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.
[This is another version of “Stompin’ at the Savoy” issued for the first time ever in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

I like to think of this as Charles’ last solo only because of the way in which such an innovative creation was prematurely cut off—much 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 Christian’s 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:
Four tunes from the America in Swingtime broadcast in the spring of 1941—an untitled blues, “The Sheik of Araby,” “Gone with ‘What’ Wind,” and “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”
And a May 1st 1941 aircheck of “A Smo-o-o-oth One” broadcast from the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival at the Armory Hall in Alexandria, Virginia.

 


 

This 8-volume CD series has my highest possible recommendation—it 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 Carri�re 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 they’re all wrapped up in a very attractive package—this 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
from the originals published in the 1995 & 1996 Solo Flight: The Charlie Christian Newsletter # 1 & 2.

LeoValdes � 1999

 

[Volume 9 of the Masters of Jazz series (released October 2001) is reviewed
following The Missing MJCD Recordings section
]

 


 

THE MISSING MJCD RECORDINGS

 

The following are those Charlie Christian recordings that were not included in the original  Masters of Jazz  8-volume  CD series.
They are listed in recording-date sequence, with a short description of Christian’s participation, followed by the CDs and LPs on which the recording appears.
Unissued recordings are not shown, nor have I listed those on which CC participates only on unamplified guitar as part of the rhythm section.
The preferred issues are marked with  

 

Sept. 9, 1939     Flying Home     Camel Caravan aircheck

entirely omitted from MJCD
the usual riffs;  32-bar solo

   Definitive DRCD11177     Charlie Christian—Complete Live Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
-   Phontastic NCD 8845/8846     More Camel Caravans, Vol. III     (Sweden, 1995)

[Masters of Jazz issued this aircheck in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

Sept. 23, 1939     Opus �     Camel Caravan aircheck

entirely omitted from MJCD
8-bar chord intro; chords behind 12-bar bass solo

   [LP]  Queen-Disc Q-016     BG, His Stars and His Guests     (Italy, 1978)

 

Sept. 24, 1939     I Got Rhythm   (take 1)     Minneapolis jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club

spliced with take 2 on MJCD:  CC’s two 32-bar solos are complete,
but the 4-bar piano intro & the first 28 bars of the first sax chorus are missing

   Suisa JZCD 379Charlie Christian—Air-Checks and Private Recordings     (Italy, 1993)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in its entirety in October 2001 on MJCD 189,
Charlie Christian • Volume 9
] *

 

Sept. 24, 1939     I Got Rhythm   (take 2)     Minneapolis jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club

spliced with take 1 on MJCD:  CC’s two 32-bar solos are complete,
but the last 28 bars of the last tenor sax chorus are missing

   Suisa JZCD 379     Charlie Christian—Air-Checks and Private Recordings     (Italy, 1993)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in its entirety in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian Volume 9] *

 

Sept. 24, 1939     Tea for Two     Minneapolis jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club

incomplete on MJCD:  missing the first half of CC’s unique 8-bar chord intro
and the first 8 bars of the second tenor sax solo
[CC’s two solos of 64 bars & 32 bars are complete]

   Arbors ARCD 19168     Jerry Jerome—Something Old, Something New     (USA, 1997)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in its entirety in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

Oct. 12, 1939     The Heebie Jeebies Are Rockin’ the Town     Victor  mx BS-042943-1

entirely omitted from MJCD
4-bar chord intro;  obbligati (32 bars; 12 bars)

   Avid AMSC 612     The Lionel Hampton All Star Sessions, Vol. 2:  Hot Mallets     (UK, 1997)
-   Black & Blue 59.238 2     Lionel Hampton Story, Vol. 2:  1938-1939      (France, 1991)
-   Classics 562     Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra • 1939-1940     (France, 1991)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
-   Music Memoria 30417     Lionel Hampton—Small Groups, Vol. 3:  1939     (France, 1991)
-   Music Memoria 88081 2     Lionel Hampton—Small Groups, Vol. 3:  1939     (Holland, 1991)
-   RCA Jazz Tribune 22614 2     The Complete Lionel Hamption, Vol. 3/4:  1939
     (France, 1994)
-   [LP]  Bluebird AXM6-5536     The Complete Lionel Hampton • 1937-1941     (USA, 1976)

 

Oct. 12, 1939     The Heebie Jeebies Are Rockin’ the Town     Victor  mx BS-042943-2

entirely omitted from MJCD
4-bar chord intro;  obbligati (32 bars; 16 bars);  chords (12 bars)

   Avid AMSC 612     The Lionel Hampton All Star Sessions, Vol. 2:  Hot Mallets     (UK, 1997)
-   CDS RPCD 605     Lionel Hampton • 1929-1940     (UK, 1992)
-   Prestige Vintage Jazz CDSGP0173     Lionel Hampton and His Orch—The Classic Years
     (UK, 1995)
-   RCA Jazz Tribune 22614 2     The Complete Lionel Hamption, Vol. 3/4:  1939
     (France, 1994)
-   [LP]  Bluebird AXM6-5536     The Complete Lionel Hampton • 1937-1941     (USA, 1976)
-   [LP]  RCA Black & White 741.049     Lionel Hampton, Vol. 5:  More Hampton’s Stuff
     (France, 1972)

 

Oct. 28, 1939     Rose Room     Camel Caravan aircheck

entirely omitted from MJCD
4-bar intro;  32-bar solo

   Jazz Band EBCD 2138-2     Camel Caravan Shows     (UK, 1997)

[Masters of Jazz issued this aircheck in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

Oct. 31, 1939     Deep Sea Blues     Vocalion  mx 25509-1

entirely omitted from MJCD
4 bars on intro;  obbligati (16 bars)  [as on take -2 on MJCD volume 1]

-   Affinity AFS 1015   (track 1)     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man     (UK, 1991)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
   Document DOCD-5651   (track 1)     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:
     1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)
-   [LP]  Queen-Disc Q-048     Ida Cox & Bertha “Chippie” Hill     (Italy, 1980)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     Death Letter Blues     Vocalion  mx 25510-1

entirely omitted from MJCD
obbligati (12 bars);  obbligati (8 bars)

-   Affinity AFS 1015   (track 2)     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man      (UK, 1991)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
   Document DOCD-5651   (track 3)     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:
     1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)
-   [LP]  Queen-Disc Q-048     Ida Cox & Bertha “Chippie” Hill     (Italy, 1980)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     Death Letter Blues     Vocalion  mx 25510-2

entirely omitted from MJCD
obbligati (12 bars);  obbligati (6 bars)

-   Affinity AFS 1015   (track 13)     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man     (UK, 1991)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
   Document DOCD-5651   (track 4)     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:
     1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)
-   [LP]  Meritt # 5     Red Allen & James P. Johnson     (USA, 1980)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     One Hour Mama     Vocalion  mx 25511-1

entirely omitted from MJCD
4-bar intro;  4-bar tag

-   Affinity AFS 1015   (track 15)     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man      (UK, 1991)
   Document DOCD-5651   (track 7)     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:
     1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)
-   [LP]  Meritt # 5     Red Allen & James P. Johnson     (USA, 1980)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     One Hour Mama     Vocalion  mx 25511-2

entirely omitted from MJCD
4-bar intro

-   Pulse PLS CD 115     Empty Bed Blues:  Best of the Good Time Mommas     (UK, 1996)
   Rosetta RRCD 1300     Mean Mothers     (USA, 1990)
-   [LP]  Rosetta RR 1300     Mean Mothers     (USA, 1980)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     One Hour Mama     Vocalion  mx 25511-X

entirely omitted from MJCD
4-bar intro; 4-bar tag

-   Affinity AFS 1015   (track 3)     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man     (UK, 1991)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
   Document DOCD-5651   (track 5)     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:
     1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     One Hour Mama     Vocalion  mx 25511-y

entirely omitted from MJCD
4-bar intro  (take breaks down after intro)

-   Affinity AFS 1015   (track 14)     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man      (UK, 1991)
   Document DOCD-5651   (track 6)     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:
     1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     Four Day Creep   [’Fore Day Creep]     Vocalion  mx 26239-A

entirely omitted from MJCD
obbligati (12 bars)

-   Affinity AFS 1015     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man     (UK, 1991)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
   Document DOCD-5651     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:  1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)
-   [LP]  Queen-Disc Q-048     Ida Cox & Bertha “Chippie” Hill     (Italy, 1980)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     Pink Slip Blues     Vocalion  mx 26240-A

entirely omitted from MJCD
4-bar chord intro;  obbligati (12 bars)

-   Affinity AFS 1015     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man     (UK, 1991)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
   Document DOCD-5651     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:  1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)
-   [LP]  Queen-Disc Q-048     Ida Cox & Bertha “Chippie” Hill     (Italy, 1980)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     Hard Time Blues     Vocalion  mx 26241-A

entirely omitted from MJCD
obbligati (12 bars)

-   Affinity AFS 1015     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man     (UK, 1991)
-   ASV AJA 5092     Ladies Sing the Blues     (UK, 1992)
-   Charly CD DIG 18     Good Morning Blues:  A Classic Blues Anthology     (UK, 1995)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
   Document DOCD-5651     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:  1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)
-    [LP]  Queen-Disc Q-048     Ida Cox & Bertha “Chippie” Hill     (Italy, 1980)

 

Oct. 31, 1939     Take Him Off My Mind     Vocalion  mx 26242-A

entirely omitted from MJCD
obbligati (12 bars)

-   Affinity AFS 1015     Ida Cox—I Can’t Quit My Man     (UK, 1991)
-   ASV AJA 5092     Ladies Sing the Blues     (UK, 1992)
-   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
   Document DOCD-5651     Ida Cox—Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:  1939-1940
     (Austria, 2000)
-   [LP]  Queen-Disc Q-048     Ida Cox & Bertha “Chippie” Hill     (Italy, 1980)

 

Nov. 18, 1939     South of the Border     Camel Caravan aircheck

entirely omitted from MJCD
8-bar chord intro;  boogie riffs! (32 bars behind clarinet melody);  8 bars of melody;
boogie riffs (16 bars behind clarinet melody);  amplified chords on final 8 bars

   Jazz Band EBCD 2139-2     Camel Caravan Shows     (UK, 1997)

[Masters of Jazz issued this aircheck in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

Dec. 24, 1939     Oh, Lady Be Good     From Spirituals to Swing concert

incomplete on MJCD:  missing the third chorus of CC’s first solo
[CC takes three choruses on his first solo and an 8-bar bridge on his second solo]

   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
-   Vanguard 169/71-2     From Spirituals to Swing     (USA, 1999)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in its entirety in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

April 30, 1940     Just Like Taking Candy From a Baby     Columbia  mx WCO 26809 A

entirely omitted from MJCD
8 bars of “Honeysuckle Rose” riffs with the ensemble

   Classics 1131     Benny Goodman and His Orchestra • 1940     (France, 2001)
   Definitive DRCD11176     Charlie Christian—Complete Studio Recordings     (Andorra, 2001)
-   EPM Musique 98345 2     Fred Astaire—Ses films et ses chansons     (France, 1995)
-   Hep 1059     Benny Goodman Plays Fletcher Henderson, Vol. 2     (UK, 1998)
-   Jazz Greats MC 006     Benny Goodman—Clarinet � la King     (UK, 1996)
-   Memoir CDMOIR 516     Benny Goodman & His Orch—Benny & the Singers     (UK, 1996)
-   Phontastic PHONT 7668     1940—Frenesi     (Sweden, 1990)
-   Sony Music A 28427     Benny Goodman Rarities • 1940-1942     (USA, 1997)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

June 25, 1940     Li’l Boy Love     Columbia  mx WCO 26982 A

entirely omitted from MJCD
6-bar CC solo on bridge

   Classics 1131     Benny Goodman and His Orchestra • 1940     (France, 2001)
-   [LP]   Jazum 50     Benny Goodman and His Orchestra     (USA, c. 1980)
-   [LP]   Joyce 6014     Helen Forrest with the Benny Goodman Orchestra, 1940
     (USA, c. 1980)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

Nov. 7, 1940     Wholly Cats     Columbia  mx CO 29027-z

breakdown take omitted from MJCD
riffs with ensemble
[breaks down at start of tenor sax solo, before CC’s solo]

   Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2013   (track 4)
     “The Rehearsal Sessions” • 1940-1941 • Featuring Charlie Christian     (Denmark, 1993)

 

Nov. 7, 1940     Benny’s Bugle     Columbia  mx CO 29030-Z

incomplete on MJCD:  missing the 4-bar trumpet intro & the 12-bar theme riffs
[CC’s 24-bar solo is complete]

   Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2013   (track 8 contains the entire session for this tune)
     “The Rehearsal Sessions” • 1940-1941 • Featuring Charlie Christian      (Denmark, 1993)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in its entirety in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

Dec. 19, 1940     Gone with What Draft     Columbia  mx CO 29261-x

breakdown take omitted from MJCD
CC 4-bar intro;  theme;  clarinet solo;  CC solo on 12-bar cadenza;   breakdown

   Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2013   (track 10)
     “The Rehearsal Sessions” • 1940-1941 • Featuring Charlie Christian      (Denmark, 1993)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

Jan. 15, 1941     Breakfast Feud     Columbia  mx CO 29512-4

incomplete on MJCD:  fades out on refrain after CC’s 20-bar solo

   Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2013   (track 14)
     “The Rehearsal Sessions” • 1940-1941 • Featuring Charlie Christian     (Denmark, 1993)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in its entirety in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

Jan. 15, 1941     Breakfast Feud     Columbia  mx CO 29512-3

incomplete on MJCD:  contains the 4-bar refrain, CC’s 20-bar solo, then fades out

   Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2013   (track 15)
     “The Rehearsal Sessions” • 1940-1941 • Featuring Charlie Christian      (Denmark, 1993)

[Masters of Jazz issued this take in its entirety in October 2001 on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9] *

 

* [ In addition to those tracks identified above, in October 2001,
Masters of Jazz issued three previously unreleased recordings:
“Poor Butterfly”   (27 April 1940)
“Stompin’ at the Savoy”   (8 May 1941)
“Stompin’ at the Savoy”   (June 1941)
plus a reissue of “Star Dust”   (2 September 1939) with improved sound;
on MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.
 
(qv below) ]

 

Revised and updated on July 29 & September 30, 1999;  April 7 & December 15, 2001
from the original published in the 1997 Solo Flight: The Charlie Christian Newsletter # 3.

LeoValdes © 1999

 


CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

VOLUME 9

1939-1941

MASTERS OF JAZZ   MJCD 189

[ France,  2001;  17 tracks – 76:55 ]

 

Masters of Jazz MJCD 189

 

Volume 9 contains many of the recordings that were not included in the original Masters of Jazz 8-volume
“Complete Edition” series.
This long-awaited issue, released on October 29, 2001, introduces three tracks that have never been released previously
in any format
and many other rarities.

Track 1  –  “Star Dust”     2 September 1939     Camel Caravan  aircheck     2:27
          CC:  32-bar chord solo
          This radio broadcast from the Michigan State Fair in Detroit was issued for the first time on CD in Volume 1.
          It is reissued here in Volume 9 with much better sound.

Track 2  –  “Flying Home”     9 September 1939     Camel Caravan  aircheck     3:21
          CC:  32-bar solo   and the usual riffs
          Previously omitted from the Masters of Jazz series.
          This aircheck was previously available only on a 1995 Phontastic (Sweden) double-CD
          until it was reissued March 2001 on a 4-CD set on the Definitive (Andorra/Spain) label.

Track 3  –  “I Got Rhythm”   Take 1     9 September 1939     Jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club in Minneapolis     3:37
          CC:  two 32-bar solos
          Issued in Volume 1, incomplete and spliced after take 2, it is now issued separately and complete.
          Previously available unspliced only on a 1993 Suisa (Italy) CD.

Track 4  –  “I Got Rhythm”   Take 2     9 September 1939     Jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club in Minneapolis     3:38
          CC:  two 32-bar solos
          Issued in Volume 1, incomplete and spliced before take 1, it is now issued separately and complete.
          Previously available unspliced only on a 1993 Suisa (Italy) CD.

Track 5  –  “Tea for Two”     9 September 1939     Jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club in Minneapolis     5:00
          CC:  8-bar chord intro;  a solo on two 32-bar choruses;  solo on one 32-bar chorus
          Issued in Volume 1 missing the first half of CC
s intro and the first 8 bars of the second tenor sax solo, it is now issued in its entirety.
          The complete take was previously available only on a 1997 Jerry Jerome double-CD on the Arbors label.

Track 6  –  “Rose Room”     28 October 1939     Camel Caravan  aircheck     3:37
          CC:  4-bar intro;   32-bar solo
          Previously omitted from the Masters of Jazz series.
          Previously available only on a 1997 Jazz Band (England) CD.
          A detailed data sheet and transcription of this aircheck can be viewed at “Rose Room” in the Transcriptions section.

Track 7  –  “South of the Border”     18 November 1939     Camel Caravan  aircheck     3:32
          CC:  8-bar chord intro,  boogie riffs (32 bars),  8-bar solo (melody),  boogie riffs (16 bars);  chords on final 8 bars
          Previously omitted from the Masters of Jazz series.
          Previously available only on a 1997 Jazz Band (England) CD.

Track 8  –  “Oh, Lady Be Good”     24 December 1939     Jam session at From Spirituals to Swing concert,
          Carnegie Hall     10:40
          CC:  a solo on three 32-bar choruses;  8-bar solo on the bridge of the out-chorus
          Issued in Volume 2 missing the third chorus of Charles
first solo, it is now issued complete.
          The complete take was previously available only on a March 2001 4-CD set on the Definitive (Andorra/Spain) label.

Track 9  –  “Poor Butterfly”     27 April 1940     Aircheck from the Cocoanut Grove at the Hotel Ambassador in L.A.     1:13
          CC:  8-bar solo on the “A” section of the tune
          Released here for the first time ever !
          Unfortunately, the first chorus (clarinet melody) and the first 14 bars of the second (vibes solo) had to be excised due to poor sound quality.
          A detailed data sheet and transcription of this aircheck can be viewed at “Poor Butterfly” in the Transcriptions section.

Track 10  –  “Just Like Taking Candy from a Baby”     30 April 1940     Columbia  mx  WCO 26809 A     2:49
          CC:  riffs (8 bars)  –  same riffs as used in the sextet intros to “Honeysuckle Rose” and later on the out-choruses of “Gone with What Draft”
          Previously omitted from the Masters of Jazz series.

Track 11  –  “Li’l Boy Love”     25 June 1940     Columbia  mx  WCO 26982 A     3:01
          CC:  6-bar solo on the 8-bar bridge  (the band comes in on the following two bars)
          Previously omitted from the Masters of Jazz series.

Track 12  –  “Benny’s Bugle”     7 November 1940     Columbia  mx  CO 29030-Z and CO 29030-1     13:27
          CC:  a solo on two 12-bar choruses  and the usual riffs
          Both takes were previously released on Volume 5 but take -Z was incomplete, missing the intro and theme chorus.
          These two takes were the fifth (alternate -Z) and sixth (final / master -1) takes of this tune recorded on this studio date.
          They are presented here just as they were recorded, with all the chatter and practice between takes.
          Charles
voice can be heard several times between the two takes.
          The complete take -Z was previously available only on a 1993 Jazz Unlimited (Denmark) CD.
          (Jazz Unlimited issued all six takes of the “Benny
s Bugle” recording including the between-take activity on one track.)
          Take -1 is the master that was originally released on 78-rpm and many other subsequent issues.

Track 13  –  “Gone with What Draft”     19 December 1940     Columbia  mx  WCO 29261-x     1:32
          CC:  4-bar intro,  riffs,  2 + 6-bar solo on the 12-bar cadenza
          Previously omitted from the Masters of Jazz series.
          This take breaks down two bars after the cadenza.
          Previously available only on a 1993 Jazz Unlimited (Denmark) CD.

Track 14  –  “Breakfast Feud”     15 January 1941     Columbia  mx  CO 29512-3     3:14
          CC:  theme with ensemble (12+12 bars);  refrain w/ ens (4 bars), solo (8+12 bars);  theme w/ ens (12 bars),
          improvised tag (4 bars)
          Previously released incomplete in Volume 6  –  contained only the refrain and CC solo, then faded out.  Now issued in its entirety.
          The complete take was previously available only on a 1993 Jazz Unlimited (Denmark) CD.

Track 15  –  “Breakfast Feud”     15 January 1941     Columbia  mx  CO 29512-4     3:06
          CC:  theme with ensemble (12+12 bars);  refrain w/ ens (4 bars), solo (8+12 bars);  theme w/ ens (12 bars),
          improvised tag (4 bars)
          Previously released incomplete in Volume 6  –  contained the theme through to the refrain and CC solo, then faded out.
          Now issued in its entirety.
          The complete take was previously available only on a 1993 Jazz Unlimited (Denmark) CD.

Track 16  –  “Stompin’ at the Savoy”     8 May 1941     Jam session at Mintons Playhouse     10:21
          CC:  riffs behind trumpet solo,  a CC solo on two 32-bar choruses;  5 choruses of collective improvisation,  tag
          Released here for the first time ever !
          A detailed data sheet and transcription of this jam can be viewed at “Stompin’ at the Savoy” in the Transcriptions section.

Track 17  –  “Stompin’ at the Savoy”     June 1941     Aircheck from the Monte Proser Dance Carnival          1:46
          CC:  theme with ensemble,  a CC solo that lasts 22 bars before the recorder malfunctions
          Released here for the first time ever !
          A detailed data sheet and transcription of this aircheck can be viewed at “Stompin’ at the Savoy” in the
          Transcriptions section.

 

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 LeoValdes—December 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 7’s 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 doesn’t 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 Sony’s box set which included Columbia alternate takes.
(All are alternate takes–or breakdowns–from 1940, most of which were recorded in Hollywood by the World Broadcasting System for Columbia Records.)

Not included here are unissued airchecks (listed in the Unissued Recordings page) nor those recordings with CC exclusively on rhythm guitar.


SEPTEMBER 23, 1939          “CAMEL CARAVAN”     NBC  (WEAF)     ORPHEUM THEATER     ST. PAUL,  MINNESOTA

Benny Goodman Sextet:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  LIONEL HAMPTON-vib,
FLETCHER HENDERSON-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  NICK FATOOL-d.

Aircheck                                         OPUS

chord intro – 8 bars;
chord accents behind bass solo – 12 bars


Only released on an out-of-print LP:   Queen-Disc  Q-016   BG, His Stars and His Guests    (Italy, 1978).


OCTOBER 12, 1939          VICTOR Records     NYC

Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  EARL BOSTIC-as,  HENRY RED ALLEN-tpt,
J.C. HIGGINBOTHAM-tbn,  LIONEL HAMPTON-vib & voc,
CLYDE HART-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  SID CATLETT-d.

mx  BS-042943-1                           THE HEEBIE JEEBIES ARE ROCKIN’ THE TOWN

•   4-bar chord intro;
obbl behind voc – 32 bars;
obbl behind voc – 12 bars


mx  BS-042943-2                           THE HEEBIE JEEBIES ARE ROCKIN’ THE TOWN

•   4-bar chord intro;
obbl behind voc – 32 bars,
chord accents behind tbn –12 bars,
obbl behind voc – 4 bars,
obbl behind voc – 12 bars


Both takes are available on CD:
Avid  AMSC 612   The Lionel Hampton All Star Sessions, Vol. 2:   Hot Mallets   (UK, 1997)
(reviewed below)


OCTOBER 31, 1939          VOCALION Records     NYC

Ida Cox & Her All-Star Band:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  EDMOND HALL-clt,  HOT LIPS PAGE-tpt,  J.C. HIGGINBOTHAM-tbn,
JAMES P. JOHNSON-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  LIONEL HAMPTON-d,  IDA COX-voc.

mx  25509-1                                    DEEP SEA BLUES

intro – 4 bars,
obbl behind voc – 8 + 8 bars


Ida Cox & Her All-Star Band:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  HOT LIPS PAGE-tpt,  JAMES P. JOHNSON-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b, IDA COX-voc.

mx  25510-2                                    DEATH LETTER BLUES

obbl behind voc – 12 bars;
obbl behind voc – 6 bars.


mx  25510-1                                    DEATH LETTER BLUES

obbl behind voc – 12 bars;
obbl behind voc – 8 bars.


Ida Cox & Her All-Star Band:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  EDMOND HALL-clt,  HOT LIPS PAGE-tpt,  J.C. HIGGINBOTHAM-tbn,
JAMES P. JOHNSON-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  LIONEL HAMPTON-d,  IDA COX-voc.

mx  25511-2                                    ONE HOUR MAMA

intro – 4 bars


mx  25511-X                                   ONE HOUR MAMA

intro – 4 bars;
tag – 4 bars.


mx  25511-y                                    ONE HOUR MAMA

intro – 4 bars
[ breakdown ]


mx  25511-1                                    ONE HOUR MAMA

intro – 4 bars;
tag – 4 bars.


Ida Cox & Her All-Star Band:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  EDMOND HALL-clt,  HOT LIPS PAGE-tpt,  J.C. HIGGINBOTHAM-tbn,
FLETCHER HENDERSON-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  LIONEL HAMPTON-d,  IDA COX-voc.

mx  26239-A                                   FOUR DAY CREEP              [ ’Fore Day Creep ]

obbl behind voc – 12 bars


mx  26240-A                                   PINK SLIP BLUES

•   4-bar chord intro;
obbl behind voc – 12 bars


mx  26241-A                                   HARD TIME BLUES

obbl behind voc – 12 bars


mx  26242-A                                   TAKE HIM OFF MY MIND

obbl behind voc – 12 bars


All tracks except take -2 of One Hour Mama are available on CD:
Document  DOCD-5651   Ida Cox-Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5:   1939-1940   (Austria, 2000).
(reviewed below)

Take -2 of One Hour Mama has been issued in the past on now out-of-print LP and CDs.
(see the “The Missing MJCD Recordings” following the volume 8 review above)

(The alternate take -2 of Deep Sea Blues was issued in the first Masters of Jazz volume.)


APRIL 3, 1940          World Broadcasting System     HOLLYWOOD     [ matrices assigned on April 10, 1940 ]

Benny Goodman Sextet:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  LIONEL HAMPTON-vib,
JOHNNY GUARNIERI-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  NICK FATOOL-d.

mx  WCO 26718 B                         THE SHEIK OF ARABY

intro w/ ens – 16 bars;
*  32-bar solo;
*  4-bars;  4-bars


mx  WCO (none)                            UNTITLED TUNE

theme w/ ens – 16, 8 bars  (clt brk);
*  12-bar solo;
theme w/ ens – 16 bars,
*  4-bar interlude


mx  WCO (none)                            UNTITLED TUNE             (Breakdown)

theme w/ ens – 16, 8 bars  (clt brk);
*  12-bar solo
[ breakdown ]


APRIL 10, 1940          World Broadcasting System     HOLLYWOOD     [ matrices assigned on April 16, 1940 ]

Benny Goodman Sextet:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  LIONEL HAMPTON-vib,
JOHNNY GUARNIERI-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  NICK FATOOL-d.

mx  WCO 26743 A                         I SURRENDER, DEAR

*  16-bar solo   (A/A sections)


mx  WCO 26744 A                         GRAND SLAM              (BOY MEETS GOY)      (BOY MEETS GIRL)

intro riffs w/ ens – 8 bars;
*  12 + 12-bar solo


JUNE 11, 1940          World Broadcasting System     HOLLYWOOD     [ matrices assigned on June 20, 1940 ]

Benny Goodman Sextet:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  LIONEL HAMPTON-vib,
DUDLEY BROOKS-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  NICK FATOOL-d.

mx  WCO 26940 B                         SIX APPEAL

chord intro – 4-bars;
*  16-bar solo;
riffs w/ ens – 16 + 16 bars,
chord tag (w/ vib) – 2 bars.


mx  WCO 26940 C                         SIX APPEAL

chord intro – 4-bars;
*  16-bar solo;
riffs w/ ens – 16 + 16 bars,
chord tag (w/ vib) – 2 bars.


mx  WCO 26940 x                           SIX APPEAL

chord intro – 4-bars;
*  16-bar solo;
riffs w/ ens – 16 + 4 bars
[ breakdown ]


mx  WCO 26940 y                           SIX APPEAL

chord intro – 4-bars;
*  16-bar solo
[ breakdown ]


mx  WCO 26940 z                           SIX APPEAL

chord intro – 4-bars
[ breakdown ]


mx  WCO 26941 B                         THESE FOOLISH THINGS

*  4-bar chord intro (behind clt);
*  8-bar solo (bridge)


mx  WCO 26941 x                          THESE FOOLISH THINGS

*  4-bar chord intro (behind clt)
[ breakdown ]


mx  WCO 26942 B                         GOOD ENOUGH TO KEEP              (Air Mail Special)

theme w/ ens – 32 bars;
*  32-bar solo;
riffs w/ ens – 32 bars.


mx  WCO 26942 C                         GOOD ENOUGH TO KEEP              (Air Mail Special)

theme w/ ens – 32 bars;
*  32-bar solo;
riffs w/ ens – 32 bars.


JUNE 25, 1940          World Broadcasting System     HOLLYWOOD     [ matrix assigned on July 3, 1940 ]

Benny Goodman & His Orchestra:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  TOOTS MONDELLO-as,  LES ROBINSON-as,  JERRY JEROME-ts,  BUS BASSEY-ts,
BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  ZIGGY ELMAN-tpt,  JIMMY MAXWELL-tpt,  IRVING GOODMAN-tpt,
RED BALLARD-tbn,  VERNON BROWN-tbn,  TED VESELY-tbn,
JOHNNY GUARNIERI-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  NICK FATOOL-d,
HELEN FORREST-voc;  LES HITE-arr.

mx  WCO 26982 B                         LI’L BOY LOVE

*  6 -bar solo (bridge)   [2 bars by orch]


NOVEMBER 7, 1940          COLUMBIA STUDIOS     NYC

Benny Goodman & His Sextet:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  GEORGIE AULD-ts,  BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  COOTIE WILLIAMS-tpt,
COUNT BASIE-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  HARRY JAEGER-d.

mx  CO 29027-z                              WHOLLY CATS

theme riffs w/ ens (behind tpt) – 12 + 12 bars
[ breakdown ]


DECEMBER 19, 1940          COLUMBIA STUDIOS     NYC

Benny Goodman & His Sextet:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  GEORGIE AULD-ts,  BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  COOTIE WILLIAMS-tpt,
KEN KERSEY-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  HARRY JAEGER-d.

mx  CO 29259-2                             BREAKFAST FEUD

theme w/ ens – 12 + 12 bars,
riffs w/ ens (behind tpt) – 12 + 12 bars;
refrain w/ ens – 4 bars,
*  8-bar solo,
(ens refrain – 4 bars),
*  8-bar solo,
refrain w/ ens – 4 bars;
theme w/ ens – 12 bars,
coda – 4 bars.


All of the above studio takes with the Benny Goodman groups are now available on CD:
Columbia / Legacy  C4K 65564   Charlie Christian:  The Genius of the Electric Guitar   (USA, 2002)
which was released almost a year after the final Masters of Jazz volume.

With the single exception of the Wholly Cats breakdown, none had been issued prior to the release of
this 4-CD deluxe box set. Charlie Christian’s solo on take -2 of Breakfast Feud had been issued before,
but this is the first issue of the entire take.


DECEMBER 10, 1940          “WE THE PEOPLE”     CBS Radio Network     NYC

Benny Goodman & His Sextet:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  GEORGIE AULD-ts,  BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  COOTIE WILLIAMS-tpt,
COUNT BASIE-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  HARRY JAEGER-d.

Aircheck                                          FLYING HOME

*  32 + 16-bar solo
[ partial  (acetate disc runs out during clt solo) ]


This partial aircheck has never been issued but is known to contain a one-and-a-half-chorus solo
by Charlie Christian.


FEBRUARY  19, 1941          “AMERICA IN SWINGTIME”     American Music Festival     Mutual  (WNYC)     NYC

Benny Goodman & His Sextet:
CHARLIE CHRISTIAN,  GEORGIE AULD-ts,  BENNY GOODMAN-clt,  COOTIE WILLIAMS-tpt,
JOHNNY GUARNIERI-p,  ARTIE BERNSTEIN-b,  DAVE TOUGH-d.

Aircheck                                          ROSE ROOM

*  5-bars  (partial)     < end of 24-bar solo >

{ See Note below }


Aircheck                                          FLYING HOME

theme w/ ens – 16, 8 bars   (clt brk),
*  32-bar solo,
chord accents – 16 bars   (behind tpt)
riffs w/ ens – 8 bars        (on bridge behind ts)
chord accents – 8 bars     (behind tpt);
riffs w/ ens – 16 bars
chord accents – 8 bars   (on bridge behind bass).
riffs w/ ens – 8 bars.

{ See Note below }


Aircheck                                          THE BLUES

*  12 + 12-bar solo


Aircheck                                          GONE WITH “WHAT” WIND

*  12 + 12-bar solo;
riffs w/ ens – 12 + 12 + 12 bars,
riffs behind clt – 12 bars.


Aircheck                                          STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY

Theme behind M.C.
     •   8 bars – “Sa-voy” chords     (w/ ens),
     •   8 bars – chord riffs     (behind ens),
     *  8-bar solo     (over ens),
     •   8 bars – riffs     (over ens),
     •   3 bars – obbl      (behind ens)             [ sign-off ]


Gone with “What” Wind is now available for the first-time-ever on CD:
Encore  7001   Benny Goodman — A Tour de Force:  The Small Groups—Live!  1937-1972   (USA, 2001)
which was released almost three weeks after the final Masters of Jazz volume.
(reviewed below)

The other two items {The Blues and Stompin’ at the Savoy} from this “concert” have never been issued in any format, however,
transcriptions of Charlie Christian’s solos can be found in the “Transcriptions” section on this site.

{ Note:  The first two titles on this aircheck were added to this page after the October 3, 2012 re-broadcast
of the sextet’s entire “America in Swingtime” radio program which verified their existence.}


LeoValdes © December 2003

 


BENNY GOODMAN

A TOUR DE FORCE

THE SMALL GROUPS—LIVE!  1937-1972

ENCORE   7001

[ USA,  2001;  double-CD, 38 tracks – 2:01:59 ]

 

Encore 7001

 

This double-CD was released on November 17, 2001 by A & B Productions containing two previously-unreleased tunes from the “America in Swingtime” broadcast in February 1941.  The set includes 38 tracks recorded live between 1937 and 1972 by various BG combos.

Only four of the tracks were recorded during Charlie Christian’s tenure. All four were broadcast from NYC and appear on
Disc One:

Track 15  –  “AC-DC Current”     December 2, 1939     Camel Caravan  aircheck     2:14
          CC:  4-bar intro,  riffs,  two 4-bar solos
          Previously released on Definitive Records (Andorra) and
Masters of Jazz (France) CD.

Track 16  –  “Gone With ‘What’ Wind”     February 19, 1941     “America in Swingtime” broadcast     3:06
          CC:  2-chorus blues solo, 3 choruses of riffs with the ensemble, 12 bars of riffs behind the clarinet on the out-chorus
          Previously unreleased !
          This aircheck has never been available in any format before now.

Track 17  –  “The Sheik of Araby”     February 19, 1941     “America in Swingtime” broadcast     2:27
          CC:  no solos
          Previously unreleased, but there's nothing of Christian interest here.

Track 18  –  “Gone With What Draft”     February 24, 1941     What’s New?—The Old Gold Show  aircheck     2:37
          CC:  4-bar intro,  riffs,  2 + 6-bar solo on the 12-bar cadenza
          Previously released on Definitive Records (Andorra),
Masters of Jazz (France), and Suisa (Italy) CD.

Charles’ 24-bar solo on this “Gone With ‘What’ Wind” is at least as good as you can find on any other version and the only place you can get it is on this CD.

Personnel details on the four tracks can be viewed in the Solography section under the respective date.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—February 27, 2002

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

AIR-CHECKS AND PRIVATE RECORDINGS

SUISA   JZCD 379

[ Italy,  1993;  16 tracks – 45:49 ]

 

Suisa JZCD 379

 

This CD remains a significant collection of Charlie Christian recordings:  it contains the only release of the two 24 September 1939 Minneapolis jam session takes of “I Got Rhythm” ever issued complete and unspliced.

Prior to the issue of the Masters of Jazz 8-CD set, this had been an absolutely essential release.  In addition to the “I Got Rhythm” takes, it contains many rare recordings that had never come out on CD.  Most of the tracks had only surfaced on bootleg LPs.  It was the first time that the 6 June 1941 “Rose Room” aircheck from Madison Square Garden became available on CD.  The first bar of Charles’ four-bar intro is missing but is otherwise in good shape sonically, especially during CC’s 24-bar solo.  Incidently, the 14 April 1941 “Breakfast Feud” aircheck was also issued incomplete here, omitting the four-bar piano intro.

With the exception of the complete “I Got Rhythm” takes, the Masters of Jazz collection contains all the other tracks on this Suisa CD.   Unfortunately, the missing intros were left out on that set also.

The 16-track details can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label Suisa.

This CD review was originally published in the 1997 Solo Flight: The Charlie Christian Newsletter # 3. � LeoValdes

[Both takes of “I Got Rhythm” have now been reissued (October 2001) in their entirety on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

 


 

BENNY GOODMAN

“THE REHEARSAL SESSIONS”

1940-1941

FEATURING CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

JAZZ UNLIMITED   JUCD 2013

[ Denmark,  1993;  17 tracks – 71:26 ]

 

Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2013

 

Another indispensable Charlie Christian CD, this one contains material from Columbia studio sessions which is not duplicated in the Masters of Jazz series.

November 7, 1940

“Wholly Cats”  includes the four rehearsal takes but not the two takes that were issued on 78-rpm.
All are on Masters of Jazz except the take that breaks down prior to Charlie Christian’s solo.

“Royal Garden Blues”     all three takes, which are also on Masters of Jazz.

“Benny’s Bugle”     the entire uninterrupted session during the recording of this tune, all on one track of the CD—more on this later.

December 19, 1940

“Breakfast Feud”     take 1 only.

“Gone with What Draft”     all four takes.
Masters of Jazz does not include the take that breaks down just after the completion of the cadenza that features CC.

January 15, 1941

“Breakfast Feud”     all four takes.
This CD contains the only complete and unspliced versions of takes 4 and 3 that have been issued.  These two takes are spliced on all other issues except Masters of Jazz where take 4 is faded out after the CC solo and another track contains only the refrain and solo from take 3.

 

Listening to the entire 27�-minute recordings of “Benny’s Bugle” is intriguing but it sure doesn’t make for casual nor repeated listening.  It is, however, interesting to hear how the tune developed all the way to the final take.  Besides the main takes, there are numerous false starts and other tune segments scattered about.  And it’s a delight to hear Charlie Christian’s riffing between takes thoughout the session, but what I found most fascinating was a couple of conversations between Charlie and Benny after the penultimate take.

Many that were familiar with their relationship have mentioned that Benny Goodman treated Charles much differently than he did most of the other musicians and associates.  He was more tolerant and had more patience with Charles than with others, somewhat as if CC were a favorite nephew—Goodman’s promise to Charles’ mother to take good care of him may have had something to do with this also.  There is evidence of that in the conversations on this track.  On both occurrences Benny tries to get Charles to turn the volume down a bit on the first chorus of his two-chorus blues solo, but CC resists with a rather flaky excuse and frustrates Goodman.  Benny never raised his voice nor sounded cross or demanding during either exchange as he was known to do with others.

I suspect the two takes that broke down during CC’s solos were stopped due to Goodman not liking the start of those solos.  I also speculate that, due to Charlie Christian’s phenomenal talent and his natural leadership in a musical environment, Benny intuitively considered him more of an equal than a subordinate and didn’t display his arrogance or overbearing nature when dealing with him.  The final take indicates that Charles didn’t much heed Goodman’s suggestion on this particular tune.  Charlie Christian was a very amiable, easy-going guy but when it came to his music, he was a headstrong individual with his own definite ideas.  This is particularly evident during the recorded jam sessions.

The 17-track, 22-take details can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label Jazz Unlimited.

This CD review was originally published in the 1997 Solo Flight: The Charlie Christian Newsletter # 3. � LeoValdes

[The takes of “Benny’s Bugle,” “Gone with What Draft,” “Breakfast Feud” omitted from the original Masters of Jazz series
have now been reissued (October 2001) in their entirety on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.
]

 


 

BENNY GOODMAN’S GOLDEN ERA

MORE CAMEL CARAVANS

Volume III

PHONTASTIC   NCD 8845/8846

[ Sweden,  1995;  double-CD,  41 tracks – 2:00:04 ]

 

Phontastic NCD 8845/8846

 

Charlie Christian appears on only two tracks on this double CD.  As the CD title denotes, both are from Camel Caravan airchecks.  One is the 2 September 1939 “Star Dust” from the Michigan State Fair in Detroit which wasn’t commercially available until its release on the Masters of Jazz series in 1992.

The other aircheck with CC is not in the Masters of Jazz collection nor had it ever been issued before in any format.  The 9 September 1939 “Flying Home” broadcast from Radio City Studios in New York City is now available for the very first time on the second disc of this set.  The routine is the same as on the version from three weeks prior except that the piano intro is stretched to 12 bars to accommodate the MC’s commentary.

Definitely another essential compact disc set.

This CD review was originally published in the 1997 Solo Flight: The Charlie Christian Newsletter # 3. � LeoValdes

[“Flying Home” has now been released (March 2001) on a Definitive Records 4-CD set DRCD11177,
Charlie Christian • Complete Live Recordings
.]
[“Flying Home” has been reissued (October 2001) on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

 


 

THE HARLEM JAZZ SCENE

1941

VENUS   TKCZ-36013

[ Japan,  1996;  24-bit—24kt Gold—Special Limited Version;
9 tracks – 51:21 ]

VENUS   TKCZ-79502

[ Japan,  1995;  20-bit version;  9 tracks – 51:57 ]

 

Venus CDs

 

Ten years ago, all six available CC recordings from the Minton’s / Monroe’s sessions were issued, together for the first time, on Charlie Christian / Dizzy Gillespie — 1941 Historical Performances, Vogue CD 600135.  Despite the back inserts listing only five CC tunes, these two Japanese CDs are identical in content to the French Vogue, including three Dizzy Gillespie tunes.

These sessions were also issued on volume 8 of the Masters of Jazz series on Charlie Christian.  Unfortunately, a lot of extra crowd noise was on the MoJ release.  Incidently, the never-issued “Stompin’ at the Savoy” recorded on 8 May 1941 at Minton’s is not on these CDs either.

These are not essential CDs if you already have these tracks, but if you want these jam sessions with, by far, the best sound, or if you don’t have the Vogue, you’ll want to get one of these.  I would go for the gold.

Details on the 6 CC tracks can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label Venus.

This CD review was originally published in the 1997 Solo Flight: The Charlie Christian Newsletter # 3. � LeoValdes

 


 

BENNY GOODMAN ORCHESTRA & SEXTET

CAMEL CARAVAN SHOWS

14 OCTOBER 1939  &  28 OCTOBER 1939

JAZZ BAND   EBCD 2138-2

[ UK,  1997;  19 tracks – 53:17 ]

 

Jazz Band EBCD 2138-2


 

BENNY GOODMAN ORCHESTRA & SEXTET

CAMEL CARAVAN SHOWS

4 NOVEMBER 1939  &  18 NOVEMBER 1939

JAZZ BAND   EBCD 2139-2

[ UK,  1997;  20 tracks – 54:46 ]

Jazz Band EBCD 2139-2

 

The complete broadcasts of four Saturday night Camel Caravan shows are on these two individual CDs.  Most of the tracks are orchestral numbers with a couple of vocals—the usual routine on these half-hour shows—with one tune by the sextet, occasionally two.

Louis Armstrong guests on two numbers on 14 October:  on “Ain’t Misbehavin’” with the sextet [no Charlie Christian solo] plus the orchestra on 16 bars and on “Shadrack” with the rhythm section [less CC] & The Lynn Murray Choir.  Louise Tobin is the vocalist on one tune with the orchestra.  The selection for the sextet on this date is a previously-issued “AC-DC Current” with Charles getting his usual 4-bar intro and two 4-bar breaks.

The 28 October show has the orchestra, with two vocals by Mildred Bailey, on all the tracks except one. And that one track is the primary reason for making this an essential CD.  It’s the only release of this version of “Rose Room” with a wonderful full-chorus solo by Charlie Christian.

The orchestra, with Mildred Bailey taking two vocals, is again on all the 4 November tracks except for the sextet’s first rendition of “Six Appeal” on which CC has a chorus shared with the clarinet on the break.  The sextet tune from this aircheck has been previously issued.

On 18 November Mildred Bailey gets three vocals with the orchestra.   The sextet gets one selection:  a most unusual “South of the Border.”  Charles chords an 8-bar intro along with the piano, then goes into 32 bars of boogie riffs! behind the melody played by the clarinet;  CC then plays the melody break for 8 bars over a rhumba rhythm before going into 16 more bars of boogie riffs.  After solos by vibes, bass, and clarinet, the sextet takes it out with CC playing amplified chord fills.  This may not be the most essential CC but it’s got to be heard.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—July 29, 1999

[Both “Rose Room” and “South of the Border” have now been released (October 2001) on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

 


 

JERRY JEROME

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

ARBORS   ARCD 19168

[ USA,  1997;  double-CD,  38 tracks – 2:21:17 ]

 

Arbors ARCD 19168

 

There’s a lot of fun stuff on this double CD by the Lester Young-inspired tenor saxophonist Jerry Jerome who was with the Goodman orchestra from December 1938 through July 1940.  Jerome also played with the swing bands of Glenn Miller, Red Norvo, and Artie Shaw.

The “something old” part of the set is on the first CD:   jam sessions, radio shows, unissued studio recordings, and a bunch of jazzy jingles from beer and cigarette commercials—all from the mid-forties to early sixties.   The collective personnel includes Teddy Wilson, Charlie Shavers, Henry ‘Red’ Allen, Yank Lawson, Bobby Hackett, Tyree Glenn, Johnny Guarnieri, Dave Tough, and lots of other cats having a swingin’ good time.

The “something new” second disc is a straight-ahead septet, featuring Jerry Jerome, recorded in 1996.  An excellent swing session.

So what’s that got to do with Charlie Christian?  Well, in September of 1939 CC and Jerry Jerome jammed at an after-hours club in Minneapolis after their gig with Goodman in St. Paul.  Four recordings were made that night—the first track on this set has the only complete “Tea for Two” from that legendary jam session.  All other issues are missing the first 4 bars of Charles’ 8-bar chord intro and the first eight bars of Jerome’s second solo.   Obviously CC’s intro sounds that much more remarkable with the first half restored; and it’s no longer disconcerting to hear an incomplete chorus in the middle of a tune.

Even if you don’t need the complete “Tea for Two,” Jerry Jerome’s out-of-the-ordinary album is still highly recommended.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—July 29, 1999

[“Tea for Two” has now been reissued (October 2001) in its entirety on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189,
Charlie Christian • Volume 9.

 


 

THE LIONEL HAMPTON ALL STAR SESSIONS

Volume 2

HOT MALLETS

AVID   AMSC 612

[ UK,  1997;  double-CD,  50 tracks – 2:29:49 ]

 

Avid AMSC 612

 

Charlie Christian recorded two different studio sessions with Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra.  This double-CD is the only one that has all of the takes from both sessions in one set.  A six-LP box set, The Complete Lionel Hampton • 1937-1941 (Bluebird AXM6-5536), was released in 1976, also with both sessions, but that’s been long out-of-print.

Four titles were recorded on September 11, 1939 in a session that, besides Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton, included soloists such as trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, alto saxophonist Benny Carter, tenor saxophonists Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and pianist Clyde Hart.  Three of the numbers were arranged by the exceptionally talented Benny Carter.  The unity of the rhythm section (Christian, Hart, Milt Hinton, and Cozy Cole) is incredible, especially on Carter’s “When Lights Are Low”—the best rendition I’ve heard of this tune.

The second Christian-with-Hampton session occured on October 12, 1939 when three titles were recorded.  Charles and Lionel are joined this time by alto saxophonist Earl Bostic, trumpeter Henry ‘Red’ Allen, trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, Clyde Hart again, bassist Artie Bernstein, and drummer Sid Catlett.  The musical level reached on the other Hampton session is not quite matched here but it is, nevertheless, a much better than average recording date.

The first volume of the Charlie Christian Masters of Jazz series has only one title from each recording date—the two that best showcase CC—but the complete sessions are well worth listening to, particularly the one from September 11th.   And there’s a whole lot of really good music on the non-CC sessions, ranging from April 1937 though August 1940, as well.

Details on the 9 CC tracks can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label Avid.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—July 29, 1999

 


 

IDA COX

I CAN’T QUIT MY MAN

AFFINITY   AFS 1015

[ UK,  1991;  19 tracks – 55:02 ]

 

Affinity AFS 1015

 

This CD has eleven of the twelve issued takes from the Ida Cox & Her All-Star Band studio sessions that Charlie Christian participated in on October 31, 1939.  A total of seven titles were recorded, and all are very slow 8-bar and 12-bar blues.  On the morning session, CC was joined by clarinetist Edmond Hall, trumpeter Hot Lips Page, trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, pianist James P. Johnson, bassist Artie Bernstein, and Lionel Hampton on drums;  Fletcher Henderson replaced Johnson on piano for the afternoon session.  Charles doesn’t solo on any of the tracks but he does have several intros and plays a whole lot of obbligati throughout the sessions.  The Masters of Jazz series has one track on the first volume for a representative sample.  If you want to hear more of Charlie Christian playing some of the bluesiest, down-home phrases he ever recorded, this is the CD to get—just be prepared for a lot of similar material at a slow tempo.

A little over a year later Ida Cox recorded another session that included Henry ‘Red’ Allen and, again, Higginbotham and Hall.  The eight tracks from that date are on here as well.  This CD has the best work of Ida’s later prime years.

Details on the 11 CC tracks can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label Affinity.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—July 29, 1999

[This CD is now out-of-print.  The Document CD shown below has released the same takes.]

 


 

IDA COX

COMPLETE RECORDED WORKS
VOLUME 5
1939-1940

DOCUMENT   DOCD-5651

[ Austria,  2000;  19 tracks – 56:25 ]

 

Document DOCD-5651

 

This CD has the same nineteen tracks as the Affinity AFS 1015 above.
The Document CD has all tracks sequenced in chronological order, while the Affinity had the alternate takes at the end.
This newer CD has the better sound.

Details on the 11 CC tracks can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label Document.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—May 29, 2001

 


 

FROM SPIRITUALS TO SWING

The Legendary 1938 & 1939 Carnegie Hall Concerts

VANGUARD   169/71-2

[ USA,  1999;  3-CD box set,  57 tracks – 2:50:59 ]

 

Vanguard 169/71-2

 

Both of the From Spiritals to Swing concerts have finally been issued in their entirety in this 3-CD box set, including 23 previously unreleased tracks.  Charlie Christian participated in the second concert of December 24, 1939 with the Goodman sextet, with the Kansas City Six, and in a jam session on “Oh, Lady Be Good.”  On the jam, Charles took a 3-chorus solo and an 8-bar bridge solo.  All previous releases of this tune had edited out the third chorus of his first solo—more specifically, from the 32nd bar of the second chorus to the 31st bar of the third.  This box has now made the complete solo available for the very first time.  Unfortunately, and most curiously, the 8-bar piano intro by Basie is now missing.

According to the notes, the original unedited tapes were used when possible.  All tracks on this set were pitch-corrected and digitally remastered using CEDAR technology.  It includes a 44-page booklet with interesting notes on the sessions and some 18 photos—also a reprint of the 20-page 1938 concert program.

Details on the 9 CC tracks can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label Vanguard.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—September 30, 1999

[“Oh, Lady Be Good” has now been released (March 2001) in its entirety on Definitive Records DRCD11177,
Charlie Christian • Complete Live Recordings
.]
[“Oh, Lady Be Good” has been reissued (October 2001) in its entirety on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189,
Charlie Christian • Volume 9.
]

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

THE GENIUS OF THE ELECTRIC GUITAR

SME RECORDS   SRCS 9612

[ Japan,  2000;  24-bit;  16 tracks – 49:54 ]

 

SME / Sony SRCS 9612

 

This is a recent Japanese 24-bit reissue of the original Charlie Christian CD released in 1987, Columbia CK 40846.  It contains the same material, in the same sequence, but the improvement in sound quality is so significant that it deserves special mention here.

This album includes some of the best of CC’s solos that Columbia Records recorded and may be the best single-CD introduction to Charles’ artistry.  It’s a tremendous pleasure to hear this music with such incredible clarity.  I’ll go so far as to say that this is an essential reissue—well worth the double-sawbuck to replace that old, now-obsolete original....or even if you have all the MJCDs.  Get it or regret it—I don’t think it’ll be in-print for long.

The 16-track details can be viewed in the Discography section listed under the label SME / Sony.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—January 24, 2001

 


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

COMPLETE STUDIO RECORDINGS

Columbia, RCA Victor, Vocalion & Blue Note
Master Takes

DEFINITIVE   DRCD11176

[ Andorra,  2001;  24-bit;  4-CD set,  73 tracks – 3:56:14 ]

 

Definitive DRCD11176


 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN

COMPLETE LIVE RECORDINGS

DEFINITIVE   DRCD11177

[ Andorra,  2001;  24-bit;  4-CD set,  67 tracks – 3:55:14 ]

Definitive DRCD11177

 

Disconforme S.L. (Andorra) released these two 4-CD sets on the Definitive Records label in March 2001.  Remastered at 24-bit resolution, the tracks are arranged in chronological order (except for one track) within their category.   Unfortunately, there’s no previously unissued tracks.

These CD sets beg comparison with the CD series that was issued by Media 7 (France) on the Masters of Jazz label from 1992 to 1994.  Here’s a comparison table for quick review:

Masters of Jazz Definitive Records
Number of CDs 8 8
Resolution 16-bit 24-bit
Total time 8:33:55 7:51:28
Number of tracks 149 140
Booklets 34 pages  (avg./CD) 5-page foldout  (per set)
Approx. list price $16.00  each $21.00  set of 4

Sound:  The MoJs sound very good but the DRs are excellent, especially on the studio tracks.

Time:  MoJs are 42 minutes, 27 seconds longer—but see tracks discussion next.

Tracks:  Charlie Christian is featured on all 149 MoJ tracks.  The DRs contain 10 tracks where CC is playing only rhythm guitar, reducing the featured tracks to 130 so MoJ really has 19 more tracks than DR where CC is featured.   There are 21 tracks on the DRs that are not on the MoJs which complicates comparison a bit, but maybe by listing those tracks you can see the situation better:

                     Complete Studio Recordings   [tracks not released on Masters of Jazz series]
                               Disc One:
                              Track   1 – When Lights Are Low                           11 Sep 39     (take -1)
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                                            3 – Hot Mallets                                            11 Sep 39
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                                            4 – Early Session Hop                                11 Sep 39
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                                            8 – I’m On My Way From You                  12 Oct 39
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                                          10 – THE HEEBIE JEEBIES                          12 Oct 39     (take -1)
                                                               CC obbligati  (32; 12 bars)
                                          11 – DEEP SEA BLUES                                31 Oct 39     (take -1)     [take -2 is on MoJ]
                                                              CC intro        (4 bars)
                                                              CC obbligati  (16 bars)
                                          12 – DEATH LETTER BLUES                     31 Oct 39     (take -1)
                                                              CC obbligati  (12; 8 bars)
                                          13 – ONE HOUR MAMA                            31 Oct 39     (take -X)
                                                              CC intro  (4 bars)
                                                              CC tag    (4 bars)
                                          14 – FOUR HOUR CREEP                            31 Oct 39
                                                              CC obbligati  (12 bars)
                                          15 – PINK SLIP BLUES                                31 Oct 39
                                                              CC intro        (4 bars)
                                                              CC obbligati  (12 bars)
                                          16 – HARD TIME BLUES                            31 Oct 39
                                                              CC obbligati  (12 bars)
                                          17 – TAKE HIM OFF MY MIND                31 Oct 39
                                                              CC obbligati  (12 bars)
                              Disc Two:
                                            5 – King Porter Stomp                                  7 Feb 40     (take -A)
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                                          13 – JUST LIKE TAKING CANDY            30 Apr 40
                                                              CC riffs  (8 bars)
                                          17 – Old Fashioned Love                               4 Oct 40
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                                          19 – Exactly Like You                                      4 Oct 40
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                              Disc Three:
                                          12 – Bugle Call Rag                                        16 Jan 41
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)

                     Complete Live Recordings   [tracks not released on Masters of Jazz series]
                              Disc One:
                                            3 – FLYING HOME                                        9 Sep 39
                                                              CC solo  (32-bar chorus)
                              Disc Two:
                                            2 – I Got Rhythm                                          24 Dec 39
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                                            5 – Stompin’ at the Savoy                          24 Dec 39
                                                              (CC on rhythm only)
                                          10 – OH,  LADY BE GOOD                           24 Dec 39
                                                              Two CC solos  (three 32-bar choruses; one 8-bar bridge)
                                                              This is the complete take which had never been released in any format.
                                                              (MoJ had released it but omitted the 3rd chorus of CC’s first solo.)

You can go to the Albums Index of the Discography section to see the complete track listings under the Definitive label.

Booklets:  No contest.  MoJ has an excellent “mini-book” in each volume, ranging between 28 and 40 pages, with discography / solography, engaging and insightful session-by-session, track-by-track discussion, and several photos.  DR has only the bare essentials, but…the dates, locations, and personnel data are impeccable—they were all taken from my discography, although without any kind of permission, acknowledgement, or even a thank you.  The studio takes quoted, however, are not flawless.  The total number of pages for the MoJ is about 340, but they’re in French and repeated in English so that’s really about 170 pages for the series compared to 10 pages of text for both DR sets.

Price:  Can’t beat the DR bargain.

Nitpicks and other comments:

Complete Studio Recordings  is subtitled “Columbia, RCA Victor, Vocalion & Blue Note Master Takes” and the foldout says “…only the master takes (the takes actually selected for release)…[on the first three discs]” but there are six tracks on those three discs that were never original releases.  Not a big deal, except the “master” take (-4) of “Breakfast Feud” on disc three, track 8, is faded out on the 4-bar refrain following CC’s solo leaving out the tenor sax solo, out-chorus theme, and the tag.  There’s another take (-1) on disc four but that’s also an alternate.  The actual master take (-2) of “Breakfast Feud” is nowhere to be found.

Disc 4 contains 3 alternate takes and the outstanding 28 Oct 40 studio rehearsal with Lester Young, Buck Clayton and the rhythm section from Count Basie’s band.  Every track on both sets is in chronological sequence except for track 2 on disc 4 of this set.

It also includes, in its entirety, Charles’ fantastic 21-minute “Waitin’ for Benny” jam session recorded on 13 Mar 41. The six tunes recorded during that jam are found here on five tracks. The session runs straight through but each tune is indexed on a separate track except for two.  I can’t figure why the two tunes are not indexed separately unless it was too difficult to find where one ends and the other begins—I suppose it is kind of hard.  The only other CD that contains this extraordinary jam is the 7th volume of the MoJ series (all on one track).   Sure makes it easier to find a particular tune when each has its own track.   This session really belongs on the Live set but it wouldn’t have fit there and it was recorded in a studio so this is a good place for it.

My biggest complaint is that there was more than enough room on this last disc for at least half-a-dozen more alternate takes.  I especially would have liked to have the alternate takes of “I Found a New Baby” and “Solo Flight” on this set.  And the alternates to “Memories of You” and “As Long As I Live” and the two alternate takes of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” which have 8-bar or 16-bar CC solos that are just as good or better than the masters.

Charles takes a nice 6-bar solo on the master of “Li’l Boy Love” (25 Jun 40) which could easily have been inserted in the second disc.

Complete Live Recordings  also has a few faults.  First off, two essential recordings that were not included here are “Rose Room” (28 Oct 39) and “South of the Border” (18 Nov 39).  Both airchecks are available only on CD on the Jazz Band label.   “Opus �” (23 Sep 39) was also left out but it’s not an essential track.  It’s only been released on a Queen-Disc LP.

Then there’s the Minneapolis jam:  the two takes of “I Got Rhythm” are spliced together (as usual) omitting a piano intro and large parts of two tenor sax solos.  And the first 4 bars of CC’s “Tea for Two” intro are missing as well as 8 bars of a sax solo (also as usual).  The complete “Rhythm” takes have been released on Suisa JZCD 379 and the complete “Tea for Two” on Arbors ARCD 19168.

There are five airchecks here that are missing various parts of the intros—but then no one else has ever issued them complete (the complete recordings do exist).  And, unfortunately, “Topsy” is here in its 78-rpm, noisy-crowd version.

However, as previously mentioned, DR does have the “Flying Home” (9 Sep 39) that MoJ left out.  This one has been previously issued only once—on a Phontastic double-CD.  And the never-before-issued-in-its-entirety “Oh, Lady Be Good” is here as well.

The Definitive sets certainly have better sound and a most attractive bargain price, but the Masters of Jazz remain the definitive, desert-island pick.  I anticipate that the forthcoming release of volume 9 of the Masters of Jazz series will more than remedy their present shortcomings and increase their desirability.

The Masters of Jazz series is reviewed at the top of this page.

Reviewed by LeoValdes—April 7, 2001

[“Just Like Taking Candy from a Baby,” “Flying Home,” and the complete “Oh, Lady Be Good”
have now been released (October 2001) on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.
]

 


 

The following is an English translation of a review of the above Definitive sets by Fernando Ortiz de Urbina
which appeared in Cuadernos de Jazz

Review originally published in Spanish in Cuadernos de Jazz, issue 65, July/August 2001
(www.cuadernosdejazz.com).

Charlie Christian: Complete Studio Recordings   (Definitive 11176-2)   (4 CDs)
Rating:  5/5 stars.

Charlie Christian: Complete Live Recordings   (Definitive 11177-2)   (4 CDs)
Rating:  4/5 stars.

In just 23 months, between 1939 and 1941, Charlie Christian managed to turn the world’s attention to the electric guitar, before his untimely death at the age of 25.  His relevance as a musician has been obscured by his proficiency as a guitarist and by the fact that he never led a band on record.  It shouldn’t be taken lightly that such singular characters as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Jimmy Smith openly declared their admiration for Christian.

Furthermore, until the last few years it has been rather difficult to gain access to the bulk of this musician’s recordings or to reliable information on him.  Fortunately, the French series Masters Of Jazz (Mdia 7) featured 8 CDs with all the material they could get hold of, together with extensive biographical information.

The two collections now published by Definitive carry less tracks than the French one, but the sound quality is better.  The large difference in price somehow makes up for the even larger difference in the amount of information included:   the Definitives are cheaper and their booklets much thinner.

Needless to say, these “Definitive” and “Complete” collections are not complete, and they will probably prove not to be definitive.   Further details for archivists only:  the enclosed information is flawless (apparently taken verbatim from expert Leo Valds’ discography), and the CDs present, for the first time ever, a complete take of the Carnegie Hall recording of Oh, Lady Be Good.  As for the “master takes” in the Studio volume, there are some noticeable but minor errors, like managing to include 3 takes of Breakfast Feud while leaving out the originally issued take.

In strict musical terms, both periods of Christian’s career with Goodman are well represented:  first, the Goodman sextet with Lionel Hampton, from August 1939 till the summer of 1940, with a repertoire keen on standards, and secondly, the group with Cootie Williams and George Auld, leaning more towards riff-based tunes.  On top of this we also have Christian’s extra-curricular activities at Minton’s and Monroe’s.

The Studio set offers on the one hand a perfect picture of the disparate jobs that a top musician could have in those years, and on the other, young Charles’ enthusiasm when it came to playing music:  there are recordings playing electric or acoustic guitars, with a big band or within small groups, backing a classic blues singer (Ida Cox) or a dull vocalist (Eddy Howard), with a big star (Fred Astaire, who even “plays” a tap-dancing “solo”) or with a boogie pianist playing celeste (Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis), and so on.

Besides the main character’s mastery, this collection comprises treasures such as Lionel Hampton’s session (CD 1, #1-4) with Benny Carter, Chu Berry, Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins on saxes plus a very young Dizzy Gillespie, the “Sextet” with Count Basie and Jo Jones of January 15, 1941 (CD 3, #8-11) or Edmond Hall’s “celeste quartet”.  However, the crown’s jewels are in disc 4:  a session by the “supergroup” that was never to be, an octet with Christian, Goodman, and members of the Count Basie Orchestra (CD 4, #3-7) and a warm-up jam by members of the Sextet waiting for the boss’ arrival, where Christian’s ascendancy over his colleagues can be appreciated (CD 4, #9-13).

The inferior sound quality in the Live volume, which comprises recordings taken mainly from radio broadcasts, should not put off those willing to listen to Christian in full flight, with solos such as Tea For Two (CD 1, #5), with teenager Oscar Pettiford, the December 1939 edition of the Kansas City 6 (CD 2, #6-8) and, especially, the jam sessions at Minton’s and Monroe’s (CD 4, #6-11) where the guitarist teaches a lesson in swing with the support of Kenny Clarke on drums.

All in all, these are two highly recommended compilations, especially for newcomers.  And for those willing to expand their collections, it is perhaps time to start saving towards the upcoming release of yet more unissued material in volumes 9 and 10 of the Masters of Jazz series, as well as a 4-CD set by Sony/Legacy which promises to deliver every studio recording featuring Christian.

Fernando Ortiz de Urbina

My gratitude to Fer for an excellent review—LV

 


 

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