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Sunday, February 6, 2011

By request: Vol. 3 The Complete Charlie Christian

Charlie Christian.....The Complete....Volume 3 1939-40

Volume 3 covers the period of December 30, 1939 through June 4, 1940 (plus a December 2nd aircheck omitted from the previous volume).

Track 1 – The existence of the aforementioned December 2nd “AC-DC Current” is acknowledged and belatedly inserted here.

Track 2 – CC’s solo on the novelty blues “Pick-A-Rib” is only 23 measures long.  The eleven-bar theme is repeated three times on this rendition, each time followed by an 11+12-bar solo—from the Camel Caravan broadcast of December 30.

Track 3 – The poorly-recorded 2-bar piano intro and first 12  bars of the “Till Tom Special” theme are missing on all issues of this December 31st Fitch Bandwagon aircheck from the Waldorf-Astoria, including this one.

Track 4 thru 6 – On February 7, 1940, Charles recorded the first of his two sessions with “The Metronome All Stars” winners selected from Metronome magazine’s jazz poll.  This date was recorded by Columbia Records;  CC would again record with the group the following year for Victor Records.

Three takes (master, alternate, breakdown) of “All Star Strut” were recorded on which CC takes a 12-bar solo.  The “fluffed” note referred to in the liner notes must be the slight time interval between the two notes in the octave Charles plays on the third beat of the first bar of his solo.  There might be a fluff on take A of “All Star Strut” but it sounds fine to me.

Another title, on which CC does not solo, was also recorded at the session.

Track 7 thru 9 – Two titles were recorded by the Goodman sextet on the same day following the Metronome session:
Count Basie’s 4-bar intro on the studio recording of “Till Tom Special” could be heard only on 78-rpm record prior to this issue.   Charles gets to solo on a chorus with a piano break on the bridge.

Each of the two takes of “Gone with ‘What’ Wind” has a 24-bar CC blues solo.

Track 10 – The Goodman band has now left New York for California.   A broadcast from the Cocoanut Grove at the Hotel Ambassador in Los Angeles is the source of “Gone with ‘What’ Wind” on March 19.

Tracks 11 & 12 – Columbia contracted the World Broadcasting System to record the band’s studio while on the West Coast.

On April 3, the sextet recorded “The Sheik of Araby” (32-bar CC solo) and “Poor Butterfly” (8-bar CC solo).
[WBS recordings (April – June 1940):  Although correctly listed on this series, the dates cited on most other issues are the dates on which Columbia Records assigned the matrix—which was usually about a week after the actual recording made by the World Broadcasting System.   Only the master takes from the WBS sextet recording sessions have survived.]

Track 13 – On April 6, another version of “Gone with ‘What’ Wind” from the Cocoanut Grove.

Tracks 14 & 15 – On April 10, the second WBS recording session produced two sextet titles:
“I Surrender, Dear” with a 16-bar CC solo and…
The boogie blues “Grand Slam” must be the most underrated of all of Charlie Christian’s recordings!  All of the critical assessments I’ve read consider it no more than ordinary.  I believe it’s the best of any of Charles’ blues solos with Goodman’s ensemble:  very logically constructed;  melodic and bluesy.  The entire second chorus is what really sets it apart;  that chorus is particularly fascinating from a guitarist’s point of view.  I never tire of playing this one on my own guitar—it’s my favorite of his fast blues solos.

Track 16 – Charles takes a 32-bar solo on “The Sheik of Araby” from the Cocoanut Grove on April 12th.

Track 17 – “Soft Winds” from the Cocoanut Grove on April 13.

Track 18 – First issue of this April 26 “The Sheik of Araby” aircheck—again from the Cocoanut Grove.  The badly recorded second half of the piano solo and following partial clarinet solo have been omitted.

Tracks 19 & 20 – Now from the Peacock Court at the Hotel Mark Hopkins high-atop-Nob Hill in San Francisco:
“Seven Come Eleven” (32-bar CC solo) on May 28.
“Six Appeal” (16-bar solo) on June 4.

Missing from this third volume—covering the period of December 30, 1939 through June 4, 1940—is an unissued aircheck of “Poor Butterfly” from the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles which was recorded on April 27, 1940.  It’s the same length (2  choruses) as the studio version of April 3rd and has the same solo sequence, except that Lionel Hampton plays the entire second chorus instead of splitting it with Johnny Guarnieri.  Charles’ solo on the aircheck is more rhythmically intense and harmonically interesting than the one from the studio.

[Partially issued for the first time (minus the poorly-recorded first 1 choruses) in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

Also omitted—in this case, justifiably— “Just Like Taking Candy from a Baby” on which Charles is clearly audible on only eight bars of riffs on an April 30 studio session with vocalist/tap-dancer Fred Astaire and the Goodman sextet & orchestra.

[Released in October 2001 on Masters of Jazz MJCD 189, Charlie Christian • Volume 9.]

  AC-DC Current
  Till Tom Special
  All Star Strut
  All Star Strut
  All Star Strut
  Till Tom Special
  Gone With 'What' Wind
  Gone With 'What' Wind
  Gone WIth 'What' Wind
  The Sheik Of Araby
  Poor Butterfly
  Gone With 'What' Wind
  I Surrender Dear
  Boy Meets Goy (Grand Slam) (Boy Meets Girl)
  The Sheik Of Araby
  Soft Winds
  The Sheik Of Araby
  Seven Come Eleven
  Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)


  1. Thanks agin! This is so great!

  2. There's more to come, I have all 9 volumes :)

  3. Thanks very much, I've just got into jazz guitar, looking forward to learning some licks! :)