This is the last recorded version of Honeysuckle Rose on
which Charlie Christian solosthere were half a dozen previous versions, including
one with the full orchestraand this one is by far the longest. It was recorded
at a jam session on an acetate recorder by Jerry Newman at Mintons Playhouse in
Harlem. CC takes the first four choruses, riffs behind the trumpet soloist on two
choruses, and then takes a fantastic solo on the bridge of the final chorus.
First CC Solo
First Solo 1st Chorus
On the first eight bars, Charles starts out very relaxed with some most uncommon phrases,
and more space between phrased than is usual. Then he leads off with a short Dbdim
phrase before going into the Ab7
as he starts to turn up the intensity. Its not long before he is in full
flight. Note that on mm 24-27 he descends from the 16th fret to the nut in less than
First Solo 2nd Chorus
Across the fifth and sixth measures someone in the band or audience shouts Charlie
Christian which may have inspired Charles to let out that beautiful run from mm
8-10. The lick that starts at the end of bar 16 is the same as the one across mm
18-19 on the first chorus, only rhythmically inverted and placed much higher on the
fretboard to accommodate the underlying harmony. The bridge consists of standard
phrases except that at bars 16 and 21, they are very well disguised.
First Solo 3rd Chorus
There are many of CCs ingenious licks on this chorus, often subtly disguised.
He starts off with the Ab pedal tone figure as on
mm 10-11 on the first chorus followed by the same two-bar line. Measure 5 has a
favorite lick thats the same as at bar 14 of the first chorus. At bar 14 two
notes anticipate the following four bar start of another line. Measure 22 contains
the same two notes with different time values. The last two notes on mm 24 have the
same effect as the ones on mm 22. At mm 27, he repeats a three note sequence
displaced in time. The phrase at mm 25-26 is the same as at bar 22 of the previous
chorusthis one in Ab7, the other in Eb7.
First Solo 4th Chorus
This chorus starts with CC playing the same note simultaneously on two different strings.
The alternating-string Bbs have been used
a few times on other tunes, also to great effect. A clever device that Charles also
used on other occasions is on mm 13-14. The staircase at mm 19-20 is an inverted
version that appears on the same bars in the 2nd chorus. Note the canny two-beat
rest that he takes at bar 21 before resolving the phrase started at bar 20. At mm
25-26 the rhythm is broken up into clusters of three notes with the first note of each
cluster alternating on the down and up beats.
On the next two choruses Charles riffs behind the trumpet solo.
Second CC Solo
The first half of the chorus consists of free improvisation with CC riffing along.
Then come the bridge! This has to be the swinginest bridge solo ever
recorded. It may be that CC felt that the jam was lagging and impulsively
decided to take a solo at this point. Almost two bars into the bridge, Charles comes
in with an extraordinary, unprecedented entrance that leaves the listener
dumbfounded. After that astounding entrance come some familiar phrases that CC has
rhythmically modified for maximum swing. Then its back to free improv capped
by a two-bar tag. Its difficult to understand why other transcribers
dont include this brief but amazing solo in their works.
This recording is an especially good piece to memorize and study to better understand
the genius of Charlie Christian.