This Historic Day In Music: Charlie Christian – Take 3

Oklahoma Jazz musician and electric guitarist Charlie Christian turned the nationally renowned Benny Goodman Quintet into a Sextet on August 16, 1939.

Over the course of the next twenty-three months, Charlie’s dazzling contributions to the many live performances, recordings and radio broadcasts by both the Benny Goodman Sextet and the Benny Goodman Orchestra firmly established the electric guitar as a totally viable and exciting voice in Jazz.

Charlie Christian made his first recordings as a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet on October 2, 1939. The other members of the group at that time were:

  • Benny Goodman – Clarinet
  • Fletcher Henderson – Piano
  • Lionel Hampton – Vibraphone
  • Artie Bernstein – Bass
  • Nick Fatool – Drums

“Rose Room” – written by Art Hickman in 1917 – was among the three pieces they recorded that day. It had also been the number Charlie played in his audition for Goodman back in August. (Read my post of August 16, 2010, for the full story of that legendary event.)

Check it out. Charlie’s solo starts at the 1:00 minute mark. 

Music that incredibly good certainly does not get old.

Charles Henry Christian was born on July 29, 1916 in Bonham, Texas. The family had moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma by the time he turned three.

Charlie recorded for the last time on June 11, 1941. In July, he was hospitalized with tuberculosis.

Charlie Christian died in New York City on March 2, 1942.

Scott Yanow wrote in the All Music Guide To Jazz: “Virtually every Jazz guitarist who emerged during 1940-1965 sounded like a relative of Charlie Christian.”

I think every Jazz guitarist since 1939 wishes (or wished) they could sound like Charlie Christian.

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1 Response to This Historic Day In Music: Charlie Christian – Take 3

  1. Kathryn Klem says:

    Love his smooth, yet peppy beat! Thank you for sharing the music and his backstory. I enjoyed both. 🙂

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