Charlie Christian: The Genius of the Electric Guitar (2002)
Never has a title of an album or anthology been more on the money than the new Charlie Christian boxset entitled “The Genius of Electric Guitar.” The more profound aspect of this collection is that when you are listening you are amazed that only two years existed between his discovery in Oklahoma by John Hammond and his death due to tuberculosis at the age of twenty-five.
While Christian was not the first musician to play the electric guitar, use the electric guitar in a jazz setting, nor the first to treat the electric guitar as a lead instrument, he was the first to put all of these ideas together and set the tone for generations ahead of him.
While this four disc collection is a study of Christian’s recording career, it also puts Benny Goodman, from whose recordings this collection is culminated, into a more positive light. One usually thinks of the pop big band sound when they think of Goodman, not the creative and masterful bandleader he was with the Sextet and Septet that featured Christian and Lionel Hampton.
Choice cuts include such standards as “Stardust,” “Rose Room,” (which was the song that Christian ‘auditioned’ on for Goodman) and “Honeysuckle Rose,” but this collection includes many outtakes and live cuts (which in clued 27 unissued tracks in the U.S., 17 of which have never been made available to the public world-wide) that further display Christian’s the sensitive touch in the rhythm and trail-blazing solos and leads.
This collection successfully examines and proves that Christian was one of the great innovators of jazz and that his technique requires exploration by every guitarist that picks up a guitar no matter the genre.
Track Listing: 98 tracks total (including live, outtakes and alternative versions), including 27 unreleased in the US, of which 17 are being issued for the first time anywhere
Personnel: Benny Goodman - clarinet Charlie Christian - guitar and many others Lionel Hampton - vibes