Charlie Christians solo on the boogie Grand Slam must
be one of the most underrated of all his solos. All of the critical assessments
Ive read consider it no more than ordinary, but many noted jazz guitarists disagree.
To quote Jim Hall in an interview of about a decade ago referring to when he was
thirteen years old and had been playing guitar for three years: I heard a
recording of Charlies solo on Grand Slam and that was it. Jazz was
going to be my life!
Charles begins his soloswinging fervently as usualwith the same phrasing
that he used on the first take of this tune (this is the second take, which was selected
as the master) but using entirely different notes. He ends, at bar 3, slurring up to
the tonic (F) rather than to the usual third (A). That's followed by a
clever Bb7 line: b7th
(Ab), 8th (Bb),
9th (C), 13th (G), topped by a couple of triplets. On mm 8-9 he plays a figure
thats identical to one he also used on the first takehere its over the
C7, on the other take it was over the Bb7.
The entire second chorus is what really makes this solo so great; its
particularly fascinating from a guitarists point of view. Alternating strings
on the off-beat set up a four-note phrase repeated four times, each containing one note a
half-step higher than on the previous one (mm 1-2 of the second chorus). After a
pause, its resolved with a short F7 descending burst. Then, higher up, he
immediately starts a long descending Bb7 run
before ascending to culminate in a brilliant F phrase. Ingenious Fdim7 notes on
alternating strings are followed by a couple of pre-bent Cs (mm 8-10). He ends his
solo with a phrase thats virtually identical to the ending of his solo on an
unreleased, untitled tune (in Db) recorded a week
earlier in the same studio.
I believe its the best of Charles blues solos with the sextet in the
studio: very logically constructed; melodic and bluesy. Its my
favorite of his fast blues solos.