This jam session is a hoot. The ensemble starts off at a good clip with
the Stompin at the Savoy theme and right away you can tell its going to
be a wild ride. The horns (2 trumpets and 3 saxes) play or paraphrase the theme or
riff along. One of the tenor saxes then takes the first solo with the trumpets
riffing behind him. On Scotts second chorus, Charlie Christian can be heard
riffing in the background but most of it is not recorded clearly enough to transcribe
with any accuracy.
Then, just before Lips starts his solo, CC comes in strongly and continues to riff
behind the trumpet till just before he takes his own solo. CCs two-chorus solo
has no horn riffing and is perfectly audible except for an unfortunate eight-bar
recording-level drop at the beginning of the second chorus. Trumpeter Guy follows
with a three-chorus solo; then its the alto sax (Williams) with three choruses
on which CC turns up his amp for some beautiful, perfectly-placed staccato chords on the
last ten bars of the altos third chorus [hard to transcribe those choppy chords but
I gave it a shot].
After that is when the five choruses of collective improvisation start and it
doesnt take long before it begins to get pretty wild on the bandstand – at times
it gets so chaotic that the rhythm almost flies out the window. Charles can be
clearly heard throughout with one exception: Klooks drums are a delight all
the way through but he gets slightly out of hand at the end of the bridge on the
next-to-final chorus where they obscure most everything. Some of Charles
contributions on the A (non-bridge) sections are
various exuberant, swing-at-all-costs, single-note rhythmic sequences. On all
the bridges though, he does some serious soloing.
Theres a real shocker on the second chorus of the collective improv: CC
apparently starts playing the bridge eight bars early before he pulls up after three
barsthats the only time I can remember him losing track like that but that
goes with the nature of an all-out jam. One of Charles favorite devices on the
E7 portion of the bridge is found here on both the
third and fourth choruses of the ensemble improv – ringing out a long, open
low-E-string while he solos over it.
There are numerous passages on this jam that you wont hear on any of CCs
other recordings – some simple, some not. My favorite, at the moment, might be
some subtle variations on the first two bars of the bridge on the fourth collective ad-libbing chorus (page 8). *
The bedlam abruptly ends with a brief tag that holds what may be Charles’
aborted thoughts of augmenting his riffs of the last four bars.
The sound quality is far from the best, but if you give this stompin jam a close listen a
few times you will be rewarded. What you have here is Charlie Christian and
some of his colleagues having a great time and thoroughly enjoying their musically
talented selves. This is what jazz is; this is real jazz
Howbeit, be mindful, this benefaction is definitely not for the lay or casual listener.
Transcribing this chaotic session has been, decidedly, the most difficult
and time-consuming of all of Charles’ recordings. At times it is
almost impossible to discern between Charles, a tenor sax, or a distant
shophar due to the cacophony of a multitude of horns coming and going in all
the din and clatter.
Recordings from two different sources and three audio-editing software programs were used to decipher
the proceedings of this session.
* More recently, the sequence at mm 9 thru 12 of the first collective chorus
(page 5) became a favorite. Somehow – CC puts a distinctly waltzy (triple)
lilt to it – it reminds me of one of the most beautiful waltzes I have ever
heard. The only place I have ever heard that waltz is on, of all places, the
1943 movie Son of Dracula – 90-second tune about 6:30 into the movie when the count makes his appearance
right after the clumsy demise of the madame/queen. Don’t know the name nor the string combo that plays
it; nor does anyone else
seem to know – even Shazam in its heyday was stumped.
I would be forever in the debt of anyone that can shed some light onto the
identity of this particular waltz.