Ad-Lib Blues is a classicwith one of Charlie Christians great
blues solos and one by Lester Young comparable to CCs.
After a three-month summer break in 1940, Benny Goodman was trying out different
personnel to augment himself and Charles in a new combo. At this rehearsal in the
Columbia Studios, none other than Prez himself participated along with Count Basie and
Buck Clayton, all of whom solo on this medium-tempo blues. Freddie Green, Walter
Page, and Jo Jones round out the nonpareil, all-star rhythm section. BG prudently
sat this one out.
CC starts the proceedings unaccompanied for the first four bars. The rhythm
section joins in for the last eight of the chorus, then drops out for the first four bars
of the next chorus. This time the tenor sax joins the rhythm section on the last
eight bars with some riffs behind Charles.
CCs entire solo is exquisite. Very melodic, though bluesy, and perfectly
structured with each phrase leading ideally, almost inevitably, into the next. He
lays way behind the beat on some of his upbeat notes, placing them just shy of falling on
the downbeat. The highlight of the solo comes at mm 15-17 where he drops from the
high to the low frets in the middle of his C7 phrase. After the climax, CC
takes it out with some of his familiar blues licks. The Blues!
Buck follows with a solo, then Prez, then Basie, each with two chorusesevery solo
chorus starts with a four-bar break except for the second piano chorus. The next two
choruses get some Young riffs, presently joined by CC. The final chorus fades out
after ten bars with Charles riffing by himself over the rhythm section.