The Genius of the Electric Guitar

The Genius of the Electric Guitar

by Charlie Christian
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The Genius of the Electric Guitar

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. It's true that he did, but only in the context of the Goodman band. There are 98 tracks spread over four CDs, all of which have been remastered from original sources -- the sound is nothing short of breathtaking. The tracks include the well-known master takes, all 70 of them, as well as 17 never before released alternates and 28 cuts that have only been issued on European or Japanese compilations. What all of this compiling proves is one thing certainly: all single-disc collections cannot begin to do justice to the legend and methyl that surrounds Christian's genius. The single-disc ventures are merely shadows, not even photographs or snaps of the massive wealth of musicality that this collaboration between these two men, and the various bands and orchestras they were involved in. Chronologically laid out, the notes are exhaustive enough to include take numbers for jazz historians to argue about. For the rest of us, we get to delve deep into the Goodman band's treasure trove with "Flying Home," "Rose Room," "Memories of You," "AC-DC Current" -- with a killer Lionel Hampton vibes solo, as well as Christian's fat-shaped chords that sound downright funky -- "Gone With What Wind," and more masters with those slippery solos and lilting clarinets. Plus, we get nine alternate takes just on disc one. Disc two brings Lester Young and Buck Clayton to the Goodman sextet, as well as players like Georgie Auld and Cootie Williams. These sides in 1940 are the most cooking, as Christian has to actually get in and mix it up with the horns. Among the most noteworthy are "Ad Lib Blues," "Lester's Dream," "Wholly Cats," and "Royal Garden Blues." The alternates are three takes of "Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)" and two of "Good Enough to Keep (Air Mail Special)," which must have been hell to pick between for the original issues -- they all smoke. Disc three puts the Goodman sextet in a new groove, with Count Basie making the scene briefly with Williams and Auld. The trading of fours between Basie and Christian on "Breakfast Feud" -- of which there are even steamier alternate takes -- is one of the highlights of either's career, and the only place on record where Goodman himself gets lost in the beat. Finally, disc four presents the Goodman Orchestra, Metronome All-Star Review, and his own big band. The sheer talent on these sides is dizzying to even list: Gene Krupa, Harry James, Jack Teagarden, Benny Carter, Pete Mondello, Fletcher Henderson, and on. Christian shines on all of these sides. Backed by a rhythm guitarist (acoustic), and a big rhythm section, his solos are wracked with fluttering arpeggios that seem to meander before sideswiping the listener with their on-target incision into the melodic framework of the tune and their absolutely in-the-pocket sense of time. Along with alternate takes, there are sextet false starts and breakdowns included, as well as the Goodman Orchestra's rehearsals. The fourth is easily the most exhausting disc of the set to listen through, but it also has the most astonishing music. This set is an archivist's dream, to be sure, but it nonetheless offers the rest of listeners plenty as well: a complete education in Goodman, as well as Christian and the eras, and to be sure, the most potent music outside the Ellington band from those years. In addition, Peter Broadbent's encyclopedic biographical notes and Loren Schoenberg' s obsessively (yes, that's a good thing) musical notes make for an indispensable package both historically and aesthetically.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/27/2012
Label: Sony Legacy
UPC: 0886979303522
catalogNumber: 793035


Disc 1

  1. Flying Home
  2. Rose Room
  3. Stardust
  4. Memories Of You
  5. Soft Winds
  6. Seven Come Eleven
  7. Shivers
  8. AC/DC Current
  9. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)
  10. Till Tom Special
  11. Gone With What Wind
  12. The Sheik Of Araby
  13. Untitled Tune
  14. Poor Butterfly
  15. I Surrender, Dear
  16. Boy Meets Goy (Grand Slam)
  17. These Foolish Things
  18. Flying Home
  19. Memories Of You
  20. Soft Winds
  21. Shivers
  22. Gone With What Wind
  23. The Sheik Of Araby
  24. I Surrender, Dear
  25. Boy Meets Goy (Grand Slam)
  26. These Foolish Things

Disc 2

  1. Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)
  2. Good Enough To Keep (Air Mail Special)
  3. Ad Lib Blues
  4. Wholly Cats
  5. Charlie's Dream
  6. I Never Knew
  7. Lester's Dream
  8. Wholly Cats
  9. Wholly Cats
  10. Royal Garden Blues
  11. As Long As I Live
  12. Benny's Bugle
  13. Gilly
  14. Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)
  15. Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)
  16. Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)
  17. Good Enough to Keep (Air Mail Special)
  18. Good Enough to Keep (Air Mail Special)
  19. Wholly Cats
  20. Wholly Cats
  21. Wholly Cats
  22. Royal Garden Blues
  23. Royal Garden Blues
  24. As Long As I Live
  25. Gilly
  26. Gilly

Disc 3

  1. Breakfast Feud
  2. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
  3. Breakfast Feud
  4. On The Alamo
  5. I Found A New Baby
  6. Gone With What Draft
  7. A Smo-o-o-oth One
  8. Air Mail Special (Good Enough To Keep)
  9. Breakfast Feud
  10. Breakfast Feud
  11. Breakfast Feud
  12. Breakfast Feud
  13. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
  14. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
  15. Breakfast Feud
  16. Breakfast Feud
  17. Breakfast Feud
  18. I Found A New Baby
  19. Gone With What Draft
  20. Gone With What Draft
  21. A Smo-o-o-oth One
  22. A Smo-o-o-oth One
  23. Air Mail Special (Good Enough to Keep) [

Disc 4

  1. All Star Strut
  2. Honeysuckle Rose
  3. Li'l Boy Love
  4. Solo Flight
  5. All Star Strut
  6. Li'l Boy Love
  7. Solo Flight
  8. Untitled Tune
  9. Poor Butterfly
  10. I Surrender, Dear
  11. I Surrender, Dear
  12. Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)
  13. Six Appeal (My Daddy Rocks Me)
  14. These Foolish Things
  15. Tune Up & Blues
  16. Wholly Cats
  17. Breakfast Feud
  18. Breakfast Feud
  19. Gilly
  20. All Star Strut
  21. Benny's Bugle
  22. Benny's Bugle
  23. March 13, 1941 Jam Session: Riffin' Around/Waitin' For Benny (A Smo-o-o

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Charlie Christian   Primary Artist,Electric Guitar
Count Basie   Piano
Buck Clayton   Trumpet
Benny Goodman   Clarinet,Leader
Freddie Green   Rhythm Guitar
Lionel Hampton   Vibes
Harry James   Trumpet
Jo Jones   Drums
Gene Krupa   Drums
Jack Teagarden   Trombone
Cootie Williams   Trumpet
Lester Young   Tenor Saxophone
Gus Bivona   Alto Saxophone
Ziggy Elman   Trumpet
Johnny Guarnieri   Piano
Bob Haggart   Bass
Lou McGarity   Trombone
Helen Forrest   Vocals
Ken Kersey   Piano
Walter Page   Bass
Georgie Auld   Tenor Saxophone
Red Ballard   Trombone
Bus Bassey   Tenor Saxophone
Artie Bernstein   Bass
Dudley Brooks   Piano
Vernon Brown   Trombone
Cutty Cutshall   Trombone
Buff Estes   Alto Saxophone
Nick Fatool   Drums
Fletcher Henderson   Piano
Irving Goodman   Trumpet
Jerry Jerome   Tenor Saxophone
Johnny Martel   Trumpet
Jimmy Maxwell   Trumpet
Eddie Miller   Tenor Saxophone
Pete Mondello   Tenor Saxophone
Robinson   Alto Saxophone
Bob Snyder   Baritone Saxophone
Jess Stacy   Piano
Dave Tough   Drums
Ted Vesely   Trombone
Alec FILA   Trumpet
Arnold Covey   Guitar
Harry Jaeger   Drums
Skippy Martin   Alto Saxophone
Toots Mondello   Alto Saxophone

Technical Credits

Hoagy Carmichael   Composer
Count Basie   Composer
Charlie Christian   Composer
Benny Goodman   Composer
Lionel Hampton   Composer
Cootie Williams   Composer
Lester Young   Composer
Johnny Guarnieri   Composer
Jimmy Mundy   Arranger
Ray Noble   Composer
Jimmy McHugh   Composer
Harold Arlen   Composer
Andy Razaf   Composer
Frank Loesser   Composer
Dorothy Fields   Composer
Fletcher Henderson   Arranger,Composer
Hite   Arranger
Gus Kahn   Composer
J. Neiburg   Composer
Mitchell Parish   Composer
Scott Wenzel   Source Recordings
Joel Zimmerman   Art Direction
Edward O'Dowd   Reissue Design
Ted Koehler   Composer
Harry Link   Composer
Jack Strachey   Composer
Frederick Hollander   Composer
Holt Marvell   Composer
Michael Brooks   Source Recordings
Peter Broadbent   Liner Notes
T. Snyder   Composer
F. Wheeler   Composer
H. Barris   Composer
J. Mundy   Composer
H. Williams   Composer
D. Dougherty   Composer
E. Reynolds   Composer
Carl Hallstrom   Source Recordings

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The Genius of the Electric Guitar 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although these discs highlight Benny Goodman's small group sides, and not Christian's guitar work, most of these cuts are eminently listenable, even though the set has its share of of outtakes and repeats. The remastering is as good as it gets. The packaging is among the worst I've seen since the advent of the CD. The discs are chunked into a piece of stiff foam without jewel cases. As a result, if the set doesn't arrive with one or more scratched discs (from individual discs rubbing against one another in transit) I would be amazed.