Charlie Christians solo on this Harlem Breakfast Club after-hours jam
session in Minneapolis is the only one of several recorded versions of Star
Dust that encompasses more than one chorus. A tenor sax one-chorus
solo follows a four-bar piano intro before CCs two-chorus solo.
Charles begins his solo by surprising the listener with his unique rhythmic
interpretation of the melody for the first four bars, then paraphrasing it for the next
four before tearing off on an eight-bar 16th-note romp through the B section.*
These are two breathtaking runs with countless fascinating details – every
guitarist would be well rewarded by a thorough study of the sequence.
He again gets close to the melody for the
start of the second A section. The
16th-notes at bar 22 are a variation on an often used phrase. CC gets rather bluesy
for a few bars before playing a variation (m 28) of a phrase used at the same place on the
second chorus, then fittingly closes the first chorus on the last four bars.
Theres a couple of flat-ninths which can be viewed as advanced harmony or just
plain blue notes at bars 17 (F♭) and 26 (A♭♭).
The second half of Charles solo consists of the usual written 32
bars heard on all other CC recordings of this tune except for an eight-bar solo break he
took at a session backing a pop singer. He plays chords on the two
A sections and last part of the
rest of the solo is mostly single notes. The chordal parts are pretty much the same
on all the different versions while the single-notes sections vary somewhat in the
This second chorus of the solo was worked out beforehand but it is nevertheless an extraordinarily creative
masterpiece. The double-time chords at bars 5-6 are absolutely astounding, with a
6-fret swoop in the B♭7 measure. A chordal
cadence at bars 7-8 is trimmed down and reused on bars 17-19. The first half of the
B section has those Pretty Baby quotes. Then
theres the incredibly beautiful chords at bars 15-16 that are executed so compactly
on the fretboard.
Measure 22 of the second chorus has a clever guitaristic run thats also found on
a couple of his other solos. With the exception of the octaves at bar 29, the rest
of the solo has single-note phrases that vary only in the execution, but Charles cuts
loose more on this jam than on any of the other versions.
Charles Star Dust chord solo was dedicated to his mother, Willie Mae,
who had requested that he play a song for her. He replied that he could not publicly
dedicate a song to her but that whenever he played this solo it was especially for her.
A most appropriate inscription to his beloved mom.
* The song has an A/B/A/C structure.
(Each of the four sections consists of eight measures; the two A sections are