Charlie Christian

Radioland 1939-1941

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A jazz lover can never have too many Charlie Christian albums. His electric guitar work simply laid the groundwork for the emergence of the guitar as an important jazz voice. As Scott Yanow's liner notes point out, Christian also basically defined the perimeters of jazz guitar until the fusion movement of the late '60s. Radioland works as a grab bag of Christian's scattered, non-Benny Goodman work between 1939-1941. The sheer variety means that sometimes the supporting players are great, sometimes so-so. "Guy's Got to Go" opens with an energetic solo backed by Nick Fenton's bass, Kenny Clarke's drums, and a lively crowd. There's some great guitar work on "Stardust" and "Tea for Two," recorded with Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, and others. It's particularly fascinating to hear Christian cut loose on the acoustic guitar on "Profoundly Blue" and "Jammin' in Four." As often happens, the lack of electricity brings out a different aspect of one's playing, and in this particular case, offers food for thought. How might Christian and his followers have developed with an acoustic guitar? The sound quality varies, as one might expect, from the hit-and-miss nature of these recordings. Still, Christian's work is always clearly audible and revealing. This may not be prime Christian, but it's fun to hear him work in multiple settings and play the acoustic guitar. His fans, along with electric guitar lovers, will want to pick up a copy.

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