Christian’s big break came in 1939 when, thanks to the great producer John Hammond, he scored an audition in Los Angeles with the “King of Swing,” clarinetist Benny Goodman. Legend has it that the famous bandleader was initially put off by Christian’s less-than-city-slicker wardrobe—until the young guitarist plugged in. From that moment forward Christian and his Gibson ES-150 were accepted not only in Goodman’s orchestra, but also in the inner circles of the jazz elite.
Goodman’s “Stompin’ at the Savoy” finds Christian bursting with inspired lines similar to Ex. 1—which uses syncopation to spice up a common melodic cliché, the rising chromatic line on the third string in bars 1-3. Ex. 2 showcases how Christian might connect F7 to B7 (IV7 to VII7 in C) on the tune’s bridge. Notice the use of added chromatic notes and melodic leaps while navigating the F and B Mixolydian scales for two bars apiece. Reminiscent of tenor saxophonist Lester Young, the arpeggiated Fm6 chord in bar 4 (which also implies B9) shows Christian had a more advanced knowledge of phrasing and harmony than most guitarists of the late 1930s.
Ex. 3 starts out sparsely, then lets loose with a more bluesy sound in bars 3-4, which are highlighted by the honking tritone between the high A and E. With licks like these pouring effortlessly from his fingers, Christian (along with Gypsy jazz immortal Django Reinhardt) drastically raised the bar for guitarists emerging in the bebop era, and his influence can still be heard in just about every jazz guitarist on the scene today.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow with Bob Curiano (Nouveau) (WEB EXCLUSIVE)
Bergantino Audio Systems Releases the New B|Amp
Mitchell Guitars Unveils Their FB Series of Basses
Output Announces New Exhale Expansion - Indie Vocals
Native Instruments Introduces Symphony Essentials
This Week in Free Stuff: TR-626 Sounds; BandLab’s Cloud DAW
Mark Gray Synth Solo
How Charlie Christian Defined the Electric Guitar and the Guitar Hero Myth
Is Taylor Swift the New Eddie Van Halen?
Paul Gilbert: â€œWhy My String Gauges Are Changing All the Timeâ€
Vyces Premiere New EP, 'Devils'
Of Mice & Men's Austin Carlile Undergoing Surgery for Health Issues
Megadeth Invite Fans to Celebrate Beer Launch and Dave Mustaine's Birthday at Special Event
Brian May, Battling â€œPersistent Illness,â€ Scraps Remaining 2016 Dates
Michael Anthony Open to Van Halen Reunion, Speaks with Alex for First Time in 10 Years
Configuring Triadic Chord Shapes within the 12-Bar Blues Form
Copyright ©2016 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470