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Audio CD, November 30, 1993
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 30, 1993)
  • Label: Delta
  • ASIN: B000001VYB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #784,653 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Doug Robinson on June 9, 2001
Format: Audio CD
The first 5 songs on this record are some of the most incredible recordings Charlie Christian made and are of great interest to anyone who wants to know about the history of jazz (bebop origins specifically), or the history of the electric guitar. Charlie Christian is one of the two most influential and important electric guitar players in history (Jimi Hendrix the other), revealing possibilities never before imagined on his instrument, changing the role of his instrument within his genre forever.
If the CD contained only the first 5 songs it would easily rank 5 stars. HOWEVER, I believe the final 5 songs of the copy of this CD that I have (doesn't have the Columbia label on it, but has the same song list) are in fact, NOT CHARLIE CHRISTIAN recordings. They are the exact same recordings (not just the same songs, but the same recordings) as those on Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" recorded 3 years after Mr. Christian passed away. One can tell that the first 5 songs sound "live", with people yelling in the background, whereas the last 5 are of typical 78 rpm recording length, are more carefully arranged, and DO NOT feature the guitar player. In fact, on "Hot House" you will not hear a guitar player at all.
If this is the case with the Columbia version (it is impossible to hear samples of any of the last 5 songs through Amazon; I believe this was done intentionally to hide the truth from a potential buyer), it is quite misleading and unethical. For a collection with only recordings that Jerry Newman made at Minton's, possibly Charlie Christian/Dizzy Gillespie/Thelonius Monk is the only consistent collection available but I haven't heard it yet. For the same reason, it is suggested to avoid buying the import 'Swing to Bop.'
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By bukhtan on July 24, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This was the first Charlie Christian recording I ever bought, some years back, when my knowledge of jazz was mostly limited to recordings made after about 1950. It turned out not quite as represented. The first several recordings are live, very informal performances, all(if I'm not mistaken) recorded by a jazz fan at Minton's Playhouse in 1940. These recordings are rightly famous, especially the piece called variously "Swing to bop" or "Charlie's Choice" (actually based on the Count Basie band's "Topsy"); the recording here gives two full solos by Christian, rather than the single one I've since heard on some truncated re-issues. The sound quality is pretty poor, with people shouting and carrying on in the background, but the atmospherics have their own value and in any event jazz fans can't always demand Madonna and Britney Spears high fidelity. You can tell what these great musicians were doing, which is what matters. There's a strong R&B and bluesy element, and yes, what you might call proto-bebop.
The trouble comes with the last five tracks. The sound quality improved dramatically, suggesting studio recording, but what was really striking was how much Charlie had changed! As well as the musicians around him. Man, one of those guys sounded just like Charlie Parker! And that trumpet player is the mostly AGILE cat I've ever heard! Who could that have been, playing advanced, not proto- bebop, before the end of 1942? (Charlie went into a TB asylum that summer and died late in the year, one of the great untimely deaths of jazz.) Well, these turned out to be Musicraft studio recordings from 1945, with Bird, Dizzy Gillespie and a guitarist who was NOT Charlie Christian. It was Remo Palmeri, a fine musician but not the guy on the cover.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 12, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Charlie Christian was, without question, a genius in both his technique and his tasteful, relaxed, inspired phrasing. However, his guitar playing was not just mindless noodling, technique for technique's sake. Listening to this CD reminds me of a quote by Maurice Ravel: "We should always remember that sensitiveness and emotion constitute the real content of a work of art." Charlie Christian definitely conveyed this quite clearly. One can hear his love of music clearly in his playing.
Without his legacy, the world of jazz and jazz guitar would likely not have developed as it did, since when listening to this CD, one can hear his distinct bop inflections, a style that would not come into its own until years after his untimely death in 1942 of tuberculosis. Like Django Reinhardt, Christian was a true pioneer in his field. This CD offers a too-rare glimpse into his genius. One can only wonder how his style would have evolved and how much deeper his impact on music would have been had he lived longer...
I highly recommend this CD to any aspiring jazz guitarist who wishes to hear it right from the source, or to any swing/jazz aficionado. Additionally, any Benny Goodman recording that features Christian's playing (or not, for that matter) would be worth acquiring, as well. If you listen to Goodman tunes such as 'Flying Home', you can hear Charlie's influence, and as a matter of fact, you can hear it to this day. We owe it to artists like Charlie Christian to not let this music die out. It is as fresh today as it was sixty years ago.
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