Charlie Christian Day
July 29, 1916 – March 2, 1942
Stompin’ at the Savoy
Guitarist Charlie Christian was born on July 29, 1916 in Bonham, Texas.
As a child, he learned guitar to support his sick father. By the mid ‘30s, Christian had made a name for himself playing eclectric guitar in Oklahoma City, where he was raised.
Christian received national acclaim as the guitarist for Benny Goodman’s sextet from 1939 up to his untimely death in 1942.
His highly unique improvisational style foreshadowed the advent of bebop and changed the role of the guitar in jazz.
After gaining recognition locally he began touring the Midwest becoming famous throughout the region playing electric guitar by 1936.
Mary Lou Williams, then the pianist for “Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy”, brought Christian to the attention of producer John Hammond who would in turn who recommend him to bandleader Benny Goodman.
Over the coming years the horn inspired single note leads of Charlie Christian would put the band at the top of the Billboard chart.
Christian also is credited as an innovator of bebop for his non commercial work performing at venues including Minton’s Playhouse where he collaborated with Thelonious Monk.
After battling tuberculosis since the late 1930s the groundbreaking electric jazz guitarist succumbed to the illness on March 2, 1942 at the tender age twenty-five.
Charlie Christian is captured live on record at Minton’s Playhouse in New York City on May 12 1941.
Charlie Christian, guitar
Joe Guy, trumpet
Thelonious Monk, piano
Nick Fenton, bass
Kenny Clarke, drums