In memory of Charlie Christian (July 29, 1916 – March 2, 1942)
A truly great musician. From an email:
This month marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Charlie Christian, among the most important guitarists in the history of jazz. Although his only available recordings come from a brief period between 1939 and 1941, Christian was an influence on nearly every modern guitarist well into the 1960s, including Les Paul, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, and George Benson. His pioneering efforts on electric guitar and extraordinary technique helped to bring the guitar to the forefront as a solo instrument.
Christian spent his formative years playing gigs around Oklahoma City. As his talents developed he began jamming with famous musicians traveling through town, including Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, and Mary Lou Williams, who brought him to the attention of producer John Hammond in 1939. It was Hammond who secured an audition for the guitarist with the famous bandleader Benny Goodman. After a somewhat rocky initial meeting, Goodman recognized Christian’s talent, hiring him to be a part of his new sextet. It was the recordings Christian made with this group that would quickly bring him to the attention of the jazz world. Christian eventually traveled to New York with Goodman’s band, where he participated in several jam sessions at famous after hours clubs like Minton’s and Monroe’s in 1941, bringing him into contact with future legends of modern jazz such as Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Kenny Clarke. Sadly, though his influence on the guitar would be felt for decades, Christian passed away at the age of only 25 in 1942 after contracting tuberculosis.