Jerry Newhouse, a young man in the local printing-paper business, recorded
this jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club, a private after-hours
club on Royalston Avenue in Minneapolis.
After their gig at the Orpheum Theatre in St. Paul,
Charlie Christian and his bandmate Jerry Jerome were transported about ten miles
by Newhouse and his friend Dick Pendleton to the club where they were joined by two
twin-city denizens, pianist Frankie Hines and bassist Oscar Pettiford.
there was no drummer, Charles kept time by tapping his foot on the floor; a cushion
was placed under his foot to keep the vibrations from rattling Newhouse’s acetate disc
recorder set up in an adjoining room. It worked.
The sequence in the presentation of the two I Got Rhythm takes is as appointed
by Newhouse. The tune was redone due to someone, for some unfathomable reason, not being pleased with the
initial take. We got lucky.
I Got Rhythm Take 1
After a volume check, Charles tosses in an abstract paraphrase of the melody on
bar two before he continues with his typical blues lines. And also typically,
enthusiasm is boosted as he crosses the bridge. An exciting solo with singular
moments scattered about.
Measures 6 and 7 contain a blues line that is again encountered more prominently
right after the bridge. There are two unusual phrases in mm 9-11 – unusual in
that they are not in his customary repertoire and unusual in that they are
unique in themselves. Not sure that anyone else has played them just like this.
The bridge starts out with four arps alternating between ending in the tonic (D)
and ending in the dom7 (C). Then comes one of his great slides into the ensuing
chord sequence with a couple of G13 lines that go into the far reaches of the
fretboard. The next chord sector receives a most interesting treatment:
b9s, b7/13th double-stops. Leaving the choppy rhythm of the
C7 arena, the bridge
ends with a lilting F7 topped off by a
Charles enters the final A-section with descending blues lines that give the
affectation of a continuation of the bridge. On the third beat of bar 26, the
is held for half-a-tick to give the line an opposite syncopation from mm 9-11.
The closing four bars continue the blues mood – b3 bend,
b7 bend, repeated
figures with four emphasized, slightly-bent b3s on every other upbeat.
I Got Rhythm Take 2
The second A-section begins at bar 9 with a long Bb run that at bar 13 goes into
a diminished scale up to a descending b3/b7 sequence. That last blues sequence
can be heard on several of Charles’ recordings in various guises and time-spans.
Then on the up of the first beat of bar 16, way before the bridge, Charles comes
in with his D7. This is almost a full measure anticipation of a chord change –
among the longest he recorded. It’s a relatively tempered start, though, to a
very energetic bridge full of unique details.
As on the first take, the four
bars after the bridge give the impression of the bridge being much longer.
Indeed, he doesn’t let up until the very end of the chorus.
First a long, random Bb chord while adjusting the volume then Charles comes in
with a kind-of preview of his kind-of boogie composition to be recorded a couple
of months later.
Starting at bar 12, three repeated F-mixolydian scales introduce the bridge that
starts with three repeated D9 arpeggios and, after a two-bar
G7 interlude, an
identical C9 arpeggio at bar 21. Another interlude (F9) is followed by some more
kind-of Seven Come Eleven riffing with some nifty rhythmic twists. Charles then
prepares for the cascading down on mm 29-30 (compare with bar 14 of the first
solo and with mm 25-26 of the second solo in the first take).
Tenor saxman Jerry Jerome takes it out with a final chorus before the crew sets
up for more wonders to come with Star Dust and Tea for Two.
This was the first time bassist Oscar Pettiford, a teenager who later became
very well known, was ever recorded. He may not sound like much here, but the
other local, Frankie Hines, is an especially enjoyable pianist. A shame that
more of Hines’ work was not available.
An interesting read at this point might be Jerry Newhouse’s letter to Columbia
Records, Inc on
(the link to our transcription is a bit out-of-date on Michael Steinman’s blog
Jerry Newhouse recorded this session on location utilizing a
Presto acetate disc recorder (12-inch discs at 78rpm). At the time, he was fresh out
of college and starting out in the paper industry. The preeminent Mr. Newhouse can
also be credited with having recorded countless broadcasts by the bands of Count Basie,
Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, et al. A bountiful number of airchecks released on LP
and CD from that era have come from his treasured archives.