It’s been a looooong, busy weekend. On Saturday we had our fundraiser garage sale for The Big Move and I followed that up with a 140k bike ride into gale force headwinds before following that up with another 30 minute brick run. This morning it was a sucktastic 12k run and then another shorter but equally sucktastic 3k run this evening because, hey, why not? And between in all there’s that looming job stress.
So now that I’ve decided that tomorrow is going to be a full 100% recovery day – meaning that I can sleep in past 5:30am – I’m listening to some hip Jazz Boner and trying to get through a few pages of my new book (‘The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in Equatorial Pacific‘ by Maarten Troost). The album is ‘Charlie Christian with the Benny Goodman Sextet and Orchestra‘.
This was one of the records I found while indulging in a little “retail therapy” of the vinyl sorts this afternoon at the St. Catharines Record Fair. Christian was an important early performer on the electric guitar and a key figure in the development of bebop and cool jazz. He gained national exposure as a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet and Orchestra from August 1939 to June 1941. His single-string technique, combined with amplification, helped bring the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument.
The first important electric guitarist, Christian played his instrument with the fluidity, confidence, and swing of a saxophonist. Although technically a swing stylist, his musical vocabulary was studied and emulated by the bop players, and when one listens to players ranging from Tiny Grimes, Barney Kessel, and Herb Ellis, to Wes Montgomery and George Benson, the dominant influence of Christian is obvious. Charlie Christian’s time in the spotlight was terribly brief. He played piano locally in Oklahoma, and began to utilize an amplified guitar in 1937, after becoming a student of Eddie Durham, a jazz guitarist who invented the amplified guitar. John Hammond, the masterful talent scout and producer, heard about Christian (possibly from Mary Lou Williams), was impressed by what he saw, and arranged for the guitarist to travel to Los Angeles in August 1939 and try out with Goodman. Although the clarinetist was initially put off by Christian’s primitive wardrobe, as soon as they started jamming, Christian’s talents were obvious. For the next two years, he would be well-featured with Benny Goodman’s Sextet.
This album captures a bit of that magic with a slightly more blues tinge to it which seems, well, pretty damn apropos at the moment as I try to unwind somewhat and regain a little of my sanity before having to do it all over again come Tuesday.