Charlie Christian: Extended Solo Edits (1940-1941)

This mix creates long electric guitar solo edits from multiple takes of Charlie Christian’s performances in the Benny Goodman Sextet. Twenty-five solos are combined within six songs, lasting half an hour.

Charlie Christian, “the genius of electric guitar,” died at age 25 in 1942. He arrived and left just in time to be an extraordinary pioneer in the early 1940s small group scene, which replaced big band jazz with nimbler units, who discovered the way forward.

Christian was spotted by the golden-eared John Hammond in Oklahoma City in 1939, who recommended him to Benny Goodman. Though limited mostly to 15-to-45-second solos in his recordings with the Goodman Sextet, Christian played in all kinds of directions – toward bop, west coast jazz, and Chuck Berry’s blartney-blartney. He’s credited as one of the originators of modern guitar solos.

The document of record is the four-disc, “Charlie Christian: The Genius of Electric Guitar.” It’s great both for Christian and for the Goodman Sextet. The Goodman and Artie Shaw small groups were the  disruptive, post-punk, insect-rock of the early 1940s. Also pop superstars who got their clothes torn off by screaming fans. Elvis and The Beatles didn’t invent that stuff.

My selections for edits are based entirely on there being sufficient takes, and sufficient Christian soloing, to make an edit a worthwhile value-add. Jerry Garcia and Steely Dan listened to Charlie Christian. The history of jazz since 1940 listened to Charlie Christian. You should, too. I’ve made it easy with edits that present him as the featured rock star of the album.

28-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Wholly Cats (6 solos)
  • Breakfast Feud (9 solos)
  • I Surrender Dear (2 solos)
  • Good Enough to Keep (3 solos)
  • Solo Flight (2 solos - the whole song)
  • I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (3 solos)