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by Chris May
Charlie ChristianThe Original Guitar GeniusProper Records2005 The New Orleans cornetist Buddy Bolden--active in the early 1900s--won his reputation as a founding father of jazz without leaving any recorded evidence of his talent. His epoch-shaping stature is based entirely on folklore, the testimony of a few contemporaries, and a handful of newspaper clippings. The Texas-born, Oklahoma-raised guitarist Charlie Christian (1916-42) shares something of Bolden's semi-mythic aura. Like Bolden, Christian ...read more
by Chris M. Slawecki
Charlie Christian may or may not have been the first musician to master the electric guitar, but one thing is certain: the first guitarist who plugged in, whoever it was, forever changed the course of modern music. Guitar styles through the decades since passed seem to have multiplied until they outnumber guitarists! But since there always seems to be room for more... Joyce Cooling Revolving Door NaradaJazz 2006 Gibson ...read more
by Charlie B. Dahan
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 ...read more
by Jim Santella
The Benny Goodman Sextet opened doors. When guitarist Charlie Christian would take a solo, he’d express the ideas that made jazz what it is. He and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton had a lot of solo space in those sessions. Their improvisation set standards. Take “Boy Meets Goy (Grand Slam),” for example. It’s a boogie-woogie in the swing style of “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B.” Under Goodman’s leadership, the piece swings hard. Clear rhythmic processes and crisp inflection come as no ...read more
by Al Rearick
For everyone wondering if and when Sony will ever get around to upgrading the CDs of music by legendary guitar-player Charlie Christian, well...I guess we’ll have to keep waiting. In the meantime, though, the good folks at Catfish Records have beaten Sony to the punch with their great-sounding compilation of prime Christian, When Lights Are Low.
At first glance, it’s perplexing to figure out who this is marketed towards. Die-hards will want to wait for a more complete overview of ...read more
by Craig Jolley
Note: This review covers the four-disk sets The Complete Studio Recordings and The Complete Live Recordings.
Charlie Christian is often described as the first great electric guitar soloist, but he was more. Together with Lester Young, Nat Cole, Coleman Hawkins, and Roy Eldridge he paved the way for bebop by stretching swing era rhythmic and harmonic concepts. He conceived wonderfully imaginative solos with a single-note, saxophone-like attack,
often accenting in unexpected places and creating lines with unusual intervals. Christian had ...read more