Five different versions of Memories of You were recorded –
all within a three-month period; and all with the 1939 sextet in NYC, same
personnel (Smack was reinstated as the sextet pianist for the concert) and routine:
one radio studio broadcast, one at a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel gig, two in the
Columbia recording studio for possible commercial release, and one in
concert at Carnegie Hall on Christmas Eve. Goodman’s forte was playing
the melody on ballads – his contributions to this tune are exemplary.
Dec 24, 1939
Charles’ usual method is to employ eighth notes in his solos. On slower
tunes he would use sixteenth notes in parts of his solos. Memories of You is
unique in that he applies sixteenth notes exclusively on all five versions.
And he plays much of the rhythm straight (not syncopated) on all five of his
solos usually holding the swingin’ till the last bar.
Each and every one of Charlie Christian’s solos is beautifully put together. Like whiffs of
fresh air. They arrive, exhilarate, and are quickly gone.
“From Spirituals to Swing” Concert at Carnegie Hall
As on bar 20 in the previous version (second studio take), Charles leads into the
G7 with a Ab7 sequence.
And as on the initial Oct 7th occurrence of the tune, this last version again has augmented arpeggios in bar 23 albeit in a distinctly different configuration.
Based on the last two measures alone, one is tempted to select this as the top
Memories bridge. One is also tempted to guess that Charles may have been encouraged by the regal audience present in the wings.
Jan Evensmo in The Guitars of Charlie Christian… (1976):
“Memories… is a great surprise, being very much different from the previous versions.
It is much more direct and outward without losing musical significance.”
Gunther Schuller in The Swing Era (1989):
“From the aforementioned Carnegie Hall concert, there survive a number of fine Christian solos, incorporating now some new and unusual winding, twisting lines, as for example, in the last four bars of
Memories of You.”
Claude Carrière in Charlie Christian, Vol. 2 (1992) MJCD 29 liner notes:
“… and his closing phrase on the bridge of Memories of You, veritable monument of melodic and harmonic invention that within the space of a few magic seconds seems to anticipate several decades of jazz.
This brief passage should in itself suffice to convert any doubters of Christian’s greatness.”