In 1992 the Masters of Jazz historic reissue label initiated a nine-part series devoted to the recordings of jazz guitarist Charlie Christian (1916-1942). Volume one, which consists of recordings made between August 19 and October 31, 1939, opens with material harvested from Camel Caravan radio broadcasts emanating from the Hollywood Bowl and the Michigan State Fair in Detroit. These tracks feature the guitarist as a newly hired member of the Benny Goodman Sextet. Christian's first studio session occurred on September 11, 1939 when he participated in a Victor recording date with a band led by vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. On September 24, 1939 Christian was recorded while participating in a late-night jam session at the Harlem Breakfast Club in Minneapolis, MN. With Christian at this nocturnal get-together (which took place after a performance at the Orpheum Theater) were tenor saxophonist Jerry Jerome, pianist Frankie Hines, and bassist Oscar Pettiford. This compilation also contains selections from Christian's first studio date with the Benny Goodman Sextet, which occurred on October 2, 1939. It ends with an example of the guitarist's work with Ida Cox and her All Star Band. "Deep Sea Blues," recorded on Halloween 1939, is one of 12 sides (seven titles) that resulted from two Vocalion sessions that took place in two different studios on the same day. It is the only Cox recording included in the Masters of Jazz Charlie Christian series; all seven of the master takes from the Christian/Cox collaborations may be found on Definitive's Complete Studio Recordings of Charlie Christian. While some tidbits from this artist's complicated legacy remain unissued, the Definitive and Masters of Jazz labels have covered his essential recordings with reverential devotion. This disc and the other volumes in the Masters of Jazz series are chock-full of alternate takes and multiple renditions. Casual listeners will therefore probably want to seek out a "best-of" sampler rather than this sort of intensive gig-by-gig documentation.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Ida Cox