Charlie Christian Quotes
(Guitar Player '73)
How did you get
interested in the guitar: Charlie Christian, like all other guitar players. There was
no way out. That cat tore everybody's head up. I never saw him in my life, but he said so
much on records. I don't care what instrument a cat played, if he didn't understand and
feel the things that Charlie Christian was doing, he was a pretty poor musician.
"Solo Flight" - boy that was too much! I still hear it. He was IT for me. I
didn't hear anybody else after that for about a year. I listened to (Charlie Christian's
records) real good, and I knew that everything done on his guitar could be done on mine.
About six or eight months after I started playing I had taken all the solos off the
records and got a job in a club just playing them. I'd play Charlie Christian's solos then
I first heard Charlie Christian in about 1942 -
on record - I never did hear him live. His sound was just great. How, with a little
amplifier without any gimmicks or anything, he gets that sound! Today we have all this
equipment, all special kinds of pickups and amplifiers.....and still can't get that sound!
I think it has to do with the person that's playing, probably.
(Melody Maker April 1974)
I think there are
three guitarists who left an impression on the Guitar: Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian
and Wes Montgomery.
Tal Farlow (BMG
I was curious to know
how he (Charlie Christian) achieved such a full, firm swinging sound - and I still am - so
I began learning those choruses note for note. Charlie's playing was so strong and clean
that memorising the notes was not so difficult so I just had to work out the fingerings
for the phrases.
Tal Farlow (Down Beat
Christian made music
important to me. I rearranged the schedule at my shop so I could work nights and listen to
band remotes (broadcasts)....Christian was the one who got me going. I bought all the
Goodman/Christian recordings and memorised Charlie's choruses, playing them on a second
hand $14 guitar and $20 amplifier.
(Down Beat July '99):
When I was younger, it
took me a little longer to track down Charlie Christian. I came to him through listening
to guitarists such as Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow and Herb Ellis. I first heard Charlie on a
Benny Goodman record. I liked him immediately. His playing really got to me.........
No one swung like Charlie Christian. It's safe to say that he was one of the founders of
the bebop movement. You listen to what he was playing back then on an album like Live
Sessions at Mintons Playhouse, and you hear it still being played today.....
You've got to check out his solo on Stompin' At The Savoy What drive, what swing!
He had a great sense of time and every note had definition, thanks in large part to the
fact that he used all down strokes.......Charlie's influence is everywhere!
(Guitar Player June '70)
I was working in
Oklahaoma City, where Charlie lived. A guy called Benny Garcia had acquired Charlie's
guitar.........He brought to me one night to play. The guitar had that filed bar pickup on
it and there was a big bubble in the back of the body. But I could just FEEL the
vibrations in that guitar, like Charlie's music was still in it somewhere. It was a
beautiful instrument. I'll never forget that feeling....of playing Charlie Christian's own
Barney Kessel (Guitar
Player Oct '70)
I had the fortune to
work with Charlie Christian and he was more aggressive, forceful and louder than I was. I
said to him: "You play loud" - not as a criticism or anything. He said: "I
like to hear myself!"
Charlie played probably 95%
downstrokes, and held a very stiff, big triangular pick very tightly between his thumb and
first finger. He rested his 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers on the pick-guard. He anchored them
there so tensely that it was like there almost wasn't a break in the joint. He almost
never used the 4th finger of his left hand.
B B King
(Guitar Player March '75)
Charlie Christian was
amazing. I first heard him around '41 or'42. There were 10 cent vending machines then,
just like juke boxes but with pictures......and that's how I saw Charlie Christian I was
still in Indianola Mississipi at the time. To me, he was a master of diminished chords. A
master at new ideas too. Barney Kessel plays a lot like him but with ideas that are more
of today. Charlie didn't fluff notes much...he was so sure.
(Guitar Player Feb '74)
...some musicians told me to
drop by a place called The Dome to hear this guitarist who was working with the Al Trent
Sextet which was passing through town (Bismark, North Dakota). The man was Charlie
Christian. It was the most startling thing I had ever heard. I had listened to all the
jazz guitarists of the time.... but they all played acoustic. And here was Charlie
Christian playing Django's "St. Louis Blues" note for note, but with an electric
guitar. I'll never forget that day.
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