DB Hall of Fame

SOLO  FLIGHT

THE  CHARLIE  CHRISTIAN  LEGACY

DB Hall of Fame


 

TRANSCRIPTIONS

 

The Guitar Solos of  Charlie Christian

 

  One of the greatest solos ever recorded in the history of jazz:  “TOPSY”   (usually known as “Swing to Bop”)

  The two studio recordings of Charlie Christian’s famous Guitar Concerto:  “SOLO FLIGHT”

  A brilliant solo on “HONEYSUCKLE ROSE” in a studio recording with the full orchestra

  Spartan comping that upstages The Lionel’s vibes, and a dynamite solo on “DINAH”

  Charlie Christian’s only two-chorus solo on “STAR DUST” — from the Harlem Breakfast Club in Minneapolis

  “IDA, SWEET AS APPLE CIDER” — a 32-bar guitar solo masterpiece on a tune with great changes

  Both versions of  “I FOUND A NEW BABY” — a different guitar solo on each of these studio gems...with some similarities

  “BLUES IN B” — a most extraordinary, ingenious blues improvisation — five-chorus solo in the key of  B

  The two best-known versions of  “ROSE ROOM” (10/2/39 & 10/9/39) — a magnificent one-chorus solo on each of these classic performances

  An incredible jam on “ROSE ROOM” — an intro and two solos (four full choruses) of absolute creativity and genius

  The two remaining versions of  “ROSE ROOM” (10/28/39 & 6/6/41) — not the two well-known takes but classics in their own right

  Two exceptional versions of  “HONEYSUCKLE ROSE” (12/24/39 & 11/19/40) — this time with the sextet in concert and on an aircheck

  The remarkable “HONEYSUCKLE ROSE” recorded at Minton’s (aka “Up on Teddy’s Hill”) — with a fantastic bridge solo on the out chorus

  “GRAND SLAM” — a boogie originally issued as “Boy Meets Goy” — one of Charles’ best blues solos with the sextet — key of F

  A slow blues (in the key of Eb) from Carnegie Hall — “PAGING THE DEVIL” — Charles’ perfect 2-chorus solo with the Kansas City Six

  Both takes of another exquisite slow blues in Eb“PROFOUNDLY BLUE” — intros & 3-chorus solos with the Edmond Hall Celeste Quartet

  Another excellent slow blues with the Kansas City Six — 2-chorus solo (this one in the key of F) — “GOOD MORNING BLUES”

  “AD-LIB BLUES” — a blues in the key of C — 2-chorus solo — also some riffs;  & a false start in the key of Bb

  The two versions of  “POOR BUTTERFLY” — stunning 8-bar solos on a studio date and on a recently-released aircheck

  Another recently-released aircheck — “STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY” (June 1941) — unfortunately, only two-thirds of CC’s solo was recorded

  Swingin’ solo from a Lionel Hampton session — “HAVEN’T NAMED IT YET” — last 8 bars:  great entrance;  diminished runs

  A perfect, melodic 8-bar solo jewel — “ON THE ALAMO” — swingin’ slow tempo—great for beginning guitarists to start with (in the key of Eb)

  Studio recording of  “THESE FOOLISH THINGS” — a 4-bar chord intro and an 8-bar bridge solo on which CC plays around with the melody

  An 8-bar intro and three free-wheeling choruses on “TEA FOR TWO” — from a jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club

  A wild jam with lots and lots of CC — “STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY” (5/8/41) — the rarest of all the Newman recordings from Minton’s Playhouse

  Six choruses of some of CC’s very best — “STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY” (5/12/41) — another jam from Minton’s Playhouse

  From a jam at Monroe’s:  2-chorus CC solo — “STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY” (May 1941) — aka “Lips Flips” / “On with Charlie Christian”

  A never-released blues from the “America in Swingtime” broadcast of February 1941 — “THE BLUES” — one of CC’s best blues solos

  Unreleased studio breakdown of  “UNTITLED TUNE” — a superb 12-bar blues solo by CC

  A fast blues with the sextet — “BREAKFAST FEUD” — Charles’ 2-chorus solo on one of his most popular tunes + tag

  Another never-released aircheck — “STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY” (2/19/41) — only one chorus but with an amazing CC performance

  Charlie Christian’s first studio recording with the Goodman sextet — “FLYING HOME” (10/2/39) — the master take

  The alternate take and a breakdown of  “THESE FOOLISH THINGS” — 4-bar chord intros and, on the alternate take, an 8-bar bridge solo by CC

  The rare recording of  “HONEYSUCKLE ROSE” — radio broadcast from the Catalina Casino on Santa Catalina Island, California

  Master and alternate takes of  “I SURRENDER, DEAR” — sixteen-bar solos on each with some similarities between the two

  Three transcription pages of each of the master & alternate takes of  “THE SHEIK OF ARABY” — intro verses, solos, fours on the out choruses

  Two solo transcriptions of “THE SHEIK OF ARABY” — radio broadcasts from The Cocoanut Grove nightclub in L.A.

  An exquisite 8-bar solo break — “I’M CONFESSIN’” — slow tempo in the key of Ab with an astonishing CC solo opening

  A never-released fragment from the “America in Swingtime” broadcast of 1941 — “ROSE ROOM” — only five bars of CC’s solo

  Another never-released item from the “America in Swingtime” broadcast of 1941 — “FLYING HOME” — complete with a 32-bar CC solo

  Charles’ very first recorded solo:  “FLYING HOME” — broadcast live from The Hollywood Bowl

  Charles’ second recording of  “FLYING HOME” — broadcast on WEAF in Manhattan

  The elusive alternate take of  “GRAND SLAM” — from the 10 April 1940 studio date

 

(Click on the tune title)

Ad-Lib Blues

28 October 1940

Rehearsal

The Blues        < unissued >

19 February 1941

Aircheck

Blues in B

13 March 1941

Pre-Rehearsal Jam

Breakfast Feud    (alternate take)

15 January 1941

CO 29512-1

Dinah

16 December 1939

Aircheck

Flying Home

19 August 1939

Aircheck

Flying Home

9 September 1939

Aircheck

Flying Home    (master take)

2 October 1939

WCO 26132 A

Flying Home    < unissued >

19 February 1941

Aircheck

Good Morning Blues

24 December 1939

Concert

Grand Slam    (master take)

10 April 1940

WCO 26744 B

Grand Slam    (alternate take)

10 April 1940

WCO 26744 A

Haven’t Named It Yet

12 October 1939

BS-042942-1

Honeysuckle Rose

22 November 1939

WCO 26290 A

Honeysuckle Rose

24 December 1939

Concert

Honeysuckle Rose

22 June 1940

Aircheck

Honeysuckle Rose

19 November 1940

Aircheck

Honeysuckle Rose

May 1941

Jam Session

I Found a New Baby    (master take)

15 January 1941

CO 29514-1

I Found a New Baby    (alternate take)

15 January 1941

CO 29514-2

I Surrender, Dear    (master take)

10 April 1940

WCO 26743 B

I Surrender, Dear    (alternate take)

10 April 1940

WCO 26743 A

Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider

14 April 1941

Aircheck

I’m Confessin’

20 December 1939

WCO 26356 A

On the Alamo

15 January 1941

CO 29513-1

Paging the Devil

24 December 1939

Concert

Poor Butterfly

3 April 1940

WCO 26719 A

Poor Butterfly

27 April 1940

Aircheck

Profoundly Blue   (master take)

5 February 1941

R 3461-1

Profoundly Blue   (alternate take)

5 February 1941

R 3461-2

Rose Room

2 October 1939

WCO 26133 A

Rose Room

9 October 1939

Aircheck

Rose Room

28 October 1939

Aircheck

Rose Room        < unissued >

19 February 1941

Aircheck

Rose Room

13 March 1941

Pre-Rehearsal Jam

Rose Room

6 June 1941

Aircheck

The Sheik of Araby    (master take)

3 April 1940

WCO 26743 A

The Sheik of Araby    (alternate take)

3 April 1940

WCO 26743 B

The Sheik of Araby

12 April 1940

Aircheck

The Sheik of Araby

26 April 1940

Aircheck

Solo Flight    (master take)

4 March 1941

CO 29865-1

Solo Flight    (alternate take)

4 March 1941

CO 29865-2

Star Dust

24 September 1939

Jam Session

Stompin’ at the Savoy        < unissued >

19 February 1941

Aircheck

Stompin’ at the Savoy

8 May 1941

Jam Session

Stompin’ at the Savoy

12 May 1941

Jam Session

Stompin’ at the Savoy

May 1941

Jam Session

Stompin’ at the Savoy

June 1941

Aircheck

Tea for Two

24 September 1939

Jam Session

These Foolish Things    (master take)

11 June 1940

WCO 26941 A

These Foolish Things    (alternate take)

11 June 1940

WCO 26941 B

These Foolish Things    (breakdown)

11 June 1940

WCO 26941 x

Topsy   (Swing to Bop)

12 May 1941

Jam Session

Tune Up & Blues

28 October 1940

Rehearsal

Untitled Tune    (breakdown)

3 April 1940

WBS Studio Session

< Tempo & Time on the introductory page of each tune have been set to true pitch >

 

 

Special Note:

If you’ve tried other transcriptions and tabs (see the notated solos bibliography), you may find a few surprises here.
I expect anyone that checks out the transcriptions on this site will have some points of contention.  Let me hear from you:  E-mail.

When repeating the same note in his solos, especially at the end of a phrase, Charles very often played those notes on different strings.   I have exaggerated that!    when indeterminable, I have depicted the alternate-strings method.
You can pick and choose when to use that maneuver or ignore it completely.
However, most of the time it actually is divergent strings.


Other Comments:

Keep in mind that Charlie Christian used down-strokes almost exclusively.
I have used the standard V upstroke symbol to indicate those very rare instances where an upstroke may have been used.

If you follow the fingering in the tabs, you’ll notice that CC used the index and middle fingers during his solos (rarely the ring finger, except on chords).
(There are a couple of recorded solos where he used his thumb briefly on the lower string.)
You’ll also note that he used his middle finger more often than not for slides, bends, and slurs.

By the way, I’ve often heard and read that Charles played his solos across the strings (as opposed to vertically on the fretboard).  I recently read somewhere, for example, that “Django Reinhardt moved up and down the fingerboard, Charlie Christian moved across the fingerboard” or words to that effect.  Contrary to that common dogma, I’ve found that Charles played vertically much more than is indicated by other transcribers, commentators, and musicologists.


Chord Notations and Fingering Symbols:

The chord names placed above the standard notation are the basic harmony of the tune.

The chord names above the tablature represent the chord changes in Charlie Christian’s solo.
Often there is an overlap of one or more notes between chords—the chord names are placed as close as possible to the chord change.

The symbols used to indicate the left-hand fingering employed on the fingerboard are explained in the following table:

symbol

finger

aka

i index forefinger
m medius middle
a annular ring
c corto little/pinky
p pollex thumb

 


Note on viewing and printing:

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The music transcriptions in this section are particularly problematic.  Even with a 1024x768 display area they just don't quite fit entirely on the screen.  The music scores were not originally intended for the Internet and cannot be easily reduced in size without loosing a lot of the quality—they would appear blurry and would be very difficult to read.  Unfortunately that means they can not be printed out without bothersome manipulating.

Of course you can just simultaneously press the Ctrl and Minus keys a few times to view the whole page.


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