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Radioland 1939-1941

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Album Review

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. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Biography

Born: 29 July 1916 in Dallas, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s

It can be said without exaggeration that virtually every jazz guitarist that emerged during 1940-65 sounded like a relative of Charlie Christian. 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...
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Radioland 1939-1941, Charlie Christian
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