DB Hall of Fame

SOLO  FLIGHT

THE  CHARLIE  CHRISTIAN  LEGACY

DB Hall of Fame


 

 

SOLO FLIGHT
 
mx   CO 29865-1
 
MARCH  4,  1941      Tuesday Columbia Studios,  NYC
 

 
  16-BAR  SECTIONS Key of   C / F Quarter Note =   178 Time:   2:45
 
  16-Bar Form:
  Section  A: Key of  C  –  16 bars   (AABC)
  Section  B: Key of  F  –  16 bars   (AABA)
 
 
  8-Bar Intro  +   7  SECTIONS    [AAABABA]   +   2-Bar Coda:
 
      6  bars  –  orchestra (Intro)
    2  bars  –  CC (Intro)    (unaccomp)
 
  16  bars  –  CC [sec A]
 
  16  bars  –  CC [sec A]
 
  16  bars  –  CC [sec A]
 
  16  bars  –  CC [sec B]
 
    8  bars  –  CC
    4  bars  –  orchestra [sec A]
    4  bars  –  CC
 
  16  bars  –  clarinet [sec B]
 
    8  bars  –  CC
    4  bars  –  orchestra [sec A]
    4  bars  –  CC (break)
 
    2  bars  –  orchestra (coda)
 
 

 
Personnel:
 
  Benny Goodman and his Orchestra
  CHARLIE CHRISTIAN Guitar
  SKIP MARTIN alto sax
  GEORGIE AULD tenor sax
  PETE MONDELLO tenor sax
  BOB SNYDER baritone sax
  BENNY GOODMAN clarinet
  COOTIE WILLIAMS trumpet
  ALEC FILA trumpet
  JIMMY MAXWELL trumpet
  IRVING GOODMAN trumpet
  LOU McGARITY trombone
  CUTTY CUTSHALL trombone
  MIKE BRYAN guitar
  JOHNNY GUARNIERI piano
  ARTIE BERNSTEIN bass
  DAVE TOUGH drums
 
  Arranged by  JIMMY MUNDY
 

 
Issued Recordings:
 
  [ 78 ] Columbia 36684   *  
 
  [ LP ] CBS 2BP 220094  
    CBS 460612 1  
    CBS 62.581  
    CBS 67233  
    CBS / Sony 56AP 674-6 (side 6, track 1)
    Columbia CG 30779  
    Columbia CJ 40846  
    Columbia G 30779  
 
  [ CD ] Avid AMSC 676  
    Castle MBSCD 441  
    Catfish KATCD196  
    CBS 460612 2  
    Chestnut CN1003  
    Classics 1202  
    Columbia 501646 2  
    Columbia/Legacy AC4K 65564 (disc 4, track 4)
    Columbia/Legacy C4K 65564 (disc 4, track 4)
    Columbia CK 40846  
    Columbia CK 91494  
    Columbia COL 481263 2  
    Columbia COL 485360 2  
    Columbia COL 491244 2  
    Definitive DRCD11176  
    Definitive DRCD11288  
    Disky CB 85972 2  
    FD Music / EPM 15184 2  
    Frémeaux FA 218 (disc 2, track 8)
    Giants of Jazz 53049  
    Going for a Song GFS561  
    Hallmark 30283 2  
    Hallmark 39117 2  
    History 20.1960-HI  
    History 20.1969-HI  
    Jazz Archives / EPM 15817 2  
    Jazz Archives / EPM 15852 2  
    Jazz Legends 4003  
    Jazz Portraits 14535  
    Jazz Roots 56027  
    JSP Records JSP911  
    Kaz / Castle KAZ CD 301  
    Le Chant du Monde 274 1459.60  
    Le Jazz / Charly CD 11  
    Masters of Jazz MJCD 74 (track 7)
    Nimbus NI 2016  
    Proper P1134  
    Proper PROPERBOX 9  
    Proper PROPERBOX 98  
    Signature SIGNCD2278  
    SME / Sony SRCS 9612  
    Sony/Legacy 93035 (disc 4, track 4)
    Sony Music Media SMM 517115 2  
    The Sunday Times STCD 251  
    Topaz Jazz TPZ 1017  
    Topaz Jazz TPZ 1032  
    Topaz Jazz TPZS 1030  
    Universe UV 129/2 (disc 2, track 15)
 
 
  * Columbia 36684   released December 10, 1943.
    Hit “Billboard” charts on February 12, 1944.
    #  1  on “Billboard Harlem Hit Parade” March 11, 1944.
    # 20  on “Billboard Hot 100” (pop) in March 1944.
 

Composed by: Charlie Christian - Jimmy Mundy - Benny Goodman
 
©   VALDÉS   4/14/99

 


 

First Page:     Intro & Section I

Second Page:    Section II & III

Third Page:       Section IV & V

Fourth Page:   Section VI & VII


C&A:

This take of Solo Flight was the one that was released on 78-rpm in December 1943 rising all the way to # 1 on Billboard’s “Harlem Hit Parade” in March 1944, two years after Charlie Christian’s death.  A second take of Charles’ guitar concerto was recorded at this studio session but not released until April 1955, on LP.

This composition is the best one to listen to if you want to hear Charles run changes—mostly one chord change per measure, sometimes two per measure.  None of the other tunes he recorded change chords that often.  It’s also an excellent vehicle for learning CC’s technique—for the beginner or for the more experienced guitarist wanting to learn how he played his solos.  A perfect example of Charlie Christian in swing mode—the advanced harmony is there but the blues are suppressed and the more complex bop rhythms are not present.  And it’s all in the easy key of C except for one section that modulates to F and back to C.

Section I
The phrase at mm 1 sounds awkward to me but from there on it’s smooth sailing.  The last note in bar 7 is the #5 of the G7 giving the three-bar phrase added interest.  The half-note at bar 11 is a surprise—one expects a C (5th) but instead Charles plays a D (6th) over the F chord.  The octaves on the G7 at bar 13 appear twice in each of the two studio takes and once in each of the two Solo Flight live recordings—he used it on other occasions but it is especially convenient on this tune because the open G-string can be used.

Section II
On the “pickup” before measure 1, CC plays what may be his favorite double-stop:  b3/6 (Eb/A) of the CMaj.  The Dm7/G7 at mm 3-4 contains a common sequence but Charles spaces out the first notes with quarter rests rather than connected quarter notes, then he inserts an Fm run between the G7 and the following C chord.  I really like the melodic ending to the section from mm10 thru 14—he sets it up with clever changes at bar 10 and, at bar 11, there’s a substantial anticipation of the Dm.

Section III
Different variations on the usual phrases, beautifully and logically put together.  However, I don’t remember CC ever using the sequence at mm 13-14 before.

Section IV  (in F)
The first four measures are “written out”—he uses this on all four of the Solo Flight recordings.  Also, the next four bars appear virtually unchanged on three of the four recordings.  His favorite double-stops again at bar 6, this time on the FMaj:  Ab/D.  The same finger pattern is used for the three chord changes on mm 8-10 but each with a different contour.  Measures 14-15:  repeated Fs (tonic) on alternating strings.

Section V
Excellent 6-measure, 6-chord run from mm 3 to 8 before he lays out for the “bridge” (mm 9-12).  The arrangement calls for Charles to play on the “bridge” of the first four sections and rest on his last two.  The octaves again in bar 13 (they don’t always show up at bar 13 on the other versions).

Section VI  (in F)
Goodman takes his clarinet solo here—the less said, the better.  But wouldn’t it have been something if Lester Young had taken the clarinet solo on this section.

Section VII
Charles again plays a 6-measure, 6-chord run at mm 3-8 which, except for the first bar, is virtually identical to the one he played on section V but with a different lilt (at bar 3 is a figure that was expanded on mm 7-8 in section V of the second take).  He closes out his solo with the same notes played simultaneously on adjoining strings then goes to alternating the same note on the strings.

If memory serves, I read an early review or two where critics said that they didn’t feel that Solo Flight was all that great because the band and Charlie Christian were sometimes at odds (or something to that effect).  But what did the critics know back then—these are fantastically wonderful recordings.  Charles worked beautifully within Jimmy Mundy’s band arrangement.  He contributed significantly (probably totally to the basic framework) to the composition and may also have had a hand in the arranging.

Wes Montgomery (during an interview):  “I never saw him in my life, but he said so much on records.  I don’t care what instrument a cat played, if he didn’t understand and feel the things that Charlie Christian was doing, he was a pretty poor musician.  Solo Flight—boy that was too much!  I still hear it.  He was it for me.  I didn’t hear anybody else after that for about a year.”

And a quote from Chuck Berry:  “Solo Flight!  It’s so great, man—it’s a son of a bitch!  I got the first 16 bars down, took me 30 years!”

 



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