Charlie Christians two solos on Rose Room are an
absolutely awesome display of creative genius on a par, though not as extensive, with his
renowned Topsy (Swing to Bop) solos. Even in a formal studio
setting Charles was a fearless soloiston this occasion we have a handful of
musicians in the most informal of sessions playing for themselves, unaware that they are
being recorded by a couple of engineers while setting up their recording
equipmenthere he really lets go with adventurous experimentation done with
impeccable taste and originality on a great tune he had played countless times before.
After the quintet concludes I Cant Believe that Youre in Love with Me
Cootie drops out leaving only Auld, Guarnieri, and Tough to romp with Charles on this
studio jam session. CC changes key to Ab
and steps up the tempo as he goes into a remarkably unique eight-bar intro.
The tune appears to be dying out at the start of the first chorus but then Charles
suddenly gets re-energized and takes off with a inimitable sequence at mm 4-5. He
goes on composing a beautiful melody over the chord changes until, starting in the middle
of measure 16, he quotes three rhythmically-displaced bars of the Rose Room
melody. The three notes across mm 18 and 19 are part of that melody, played an
octave higher than at mm 2 and 3 sixteen bars earlier. CC continues with his
wonderful improvisations, adding some bluesy stuff here and there. At mm 27-29 he
plays a fascinating sequence that I dont believe Ive heard anywhere else,
followed by another at bar 30 before taking a one-chorus respite.
Second Solo 1st Chorus
Charles entrance is astounding. The almost-two-beat delay in the entry and the
precise rhythmic placement of the notes adds tremendous impetus to the jam. CC is
really starting to move out now. Measures 3-5 are beautifully played, melodically
and rhythmically turning this way and that. His ingenious ideas are coming at him
faster and fasterthere are fewer rests now than on his first solo. The run at
mm 8-9 is not unusual except for the way he gets from here to there on the fretboard.
The triplets at mm 14-16 are unusual, going up then down with augmented arpeggios
interspersed within over the Eb7.
The blues effects played on mm17-19 show how Charles had perfect command of startling
off-beat rhythm. The exquisite sequence at mm 20-22 first appeared a month earlier
on the partial Rose Room recording of the 19 February broadcast and would reappear three
months later on the 6 June Rose Room aircheck, on the same measureshere he starts
it off with more flair than on the other dates. A couple of minor phrases are strung
together at mm 24-26the open-string note (b9)
toward the end serves to get his fingering set up and to turn the rhythm around.
Then some up-beat octaves, a hint at a quote, and his signature dyad.
Second Solo 2nd Chorus
This chorus starts out with his Every little breeze seems to whisper
Louise quote which he had hinted at three bars earlierthe quote
also appeared (modified) on the first solo, second chorus, mm 17-20 of the 24 Sep 1939 Tea
for Two. One of his favorite dominant-7, straight-rhythm (no syncopation) runs
begins at the end of bar 4 with a brilliantly-conceived, open-string b9absolutely love the sound of that start. He then
caps it with a shocking octave and slide. Blues effects again at mm 8-10, going from
major to minor. Augmented figures appear again over the Eb7
on mm 14-16 as on the previous chorus with a clever rhythmic change-up on the last beat of
bar 15. Measure 21 features some chords followed by octaves a couple of bars later.
The first note at bar 25 is the b6advanced
harmony for the timeof the Dbm chord.
Bars 28-30 are a variation on the previous chorus mm 3-5. Ab scale at the end.
Second Solo 3rd Chorus
Scales continue for 10 more measuresthen 6 bars of off-the-beat chords (augmented
over the Eb7on mm 15-16). After what seems
like a short practice break, Charles resumes with another half-chorus of wondrous
improvisation. His timing is remarkable. Listen to the effect of the b3rd / 5th AbMaj
figures at mm 18-20 and how they then turn into Ab7
phrases at mm 21-22. CC makes the three Dbs
in the middle of bar 23 sound like four. He puts in some rhythmic
same-note-on-alternate-strings effects in mm 24-26 to set up the closing, plays lovely
phrases though the Ab / F7 / Bb7, and finalizes the tune on the last three bars, inserting a
Dbm between the Eb7
There is much here that demonstrates Charlie Christians tremendous influence,
directly and indirectly, on the forthcoming Rhythm & Blues scenemost
conspicuously in the last half-chorus.
After first hearing this recording a quarter of a century ago, Rose Room never
sounded the same again. This was what jazz is all abouta musical genius with
complete mastery of his instrument spontaneously creating some of the most beautiful music
ever. It never got any better than this.