This release features some of the best live recordings by the celebrated Benny Goodman Sextet featuring the legendary Charlie Christian. Taken from rare radio broadcasts, they present the magic of Christians guitar during his short-lived three year music career, before he succumbed to tuberculosis in early 1942. As a bonus, this edition presents four tracks taken from a jam session at Minneapolis Harlem Breakfast Club, presenting the Jerry Jerome Quartet with Charlie Christian on electric guitar (including extended solos), Frankie Hines on piano and the great Oscar Pettiford on bass (no drums).
Charlie Christian's career was all too brief, lasting a mere five years. After catching the attention of John Hammond, who recommended him to Benny Goodman, he appeared on fewer than 100 sessions between 1939 and 1941, mostly broadcasts, plus a few privately recorded sessions issued on various labels over the years, in addition to his well-known studio recordings and with Goodman. While the music in this compilation has been previously available, this collection has to much recommend it. First of all, new digital transfers have been made from original acetates from the Jerry Newhouse collection, rather than relying on later generation sources. Frank Driggs' detailed liner notes provide a wealth of historical background and there are also lots of photographs. But the most important factor is the music itself.
Definitive's mini-anthology of classic recordings featuring pioneer electrically amplified guitarist Charlie Christian is an excellent core sample taken from his brief and eventful career. Note that Definitive has also issued what purport to be compilations containing all of Christian's complete live and studio recordings, as well as another more modestly proportioned sampler entitled The Genius of the Electric Guitar. Charlie Christian was like a will-o'-the-wisp, a strikingly creative sideman who appeared at studio sessions and live jams during a span of months only adding up to a couple of years before succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of 25 in 1942. On Definitive's Celestial Express, the guitarist is heard with various groups led by Lionel Hampton and Benny Goodman, with Edmond Hall's Celeste Quartet, and with the Kansas City Six (a band including Count Basie and Lester Young) at the second From Spirituals to Swing concert in Carnegie Hall.
Explore the riffs, solos, and sounds of the original electric jazz guitar virtuoso with this in-depth analysis of 8 songs. Hugely influential on his contemporaries and later generations of musicians, Charlie Christian set the standard for jazz guitar with his unique swing style, riffs, and soloing ability. Through a detailed breakdown of several songs, experts explore the elements that contributed to Christian's inimitable sound. Songs include: "Solo Flight," "Gone with What Wind," "Till Tom Special," "Grand Slam," "Air Mail Special," "Seven Come Eleven," "Benny's Bugle," and "Shiver."
First, a few myths get cleared up by the very existence of this box, which goes far beyond the original Columbia compilations with the same name. For starters, Columbia goes a long way to setting the record straight that Charlie Christian was not the first electric guitarist or the first jazz guitarist or the first electric guitarist in jazz. For another, they concentrate on only one thing here: documenting Christian's seminal tenure with Benny Goodman's various bands from 1939-1941. While in essence, that's all there really is, various dodgy compilations have been made advertising Christian playing with Lester Young or Lionel Hampton.