Oklahoma-raised guitarist Charlie Christian (1916) was more of a bluesman than a
jazzman because he started playing solo: bluesmen used the guitar as a lead
instrument, jazzmen didn't.
From the viewpoint of jazz, Christian's guitar was more like a saxophone than
like the guitar that had been traditionally played in jazz (a part of the rhythm section).
Charlie Christian improved over the innovations of acoustic guitarists Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang, and perhaps applied to his instrument the lesson of Lester Young.
He developed his style in relative isolation in Oklahoma before being discovered
(1939) and brought to New York to join Benny Goodman's sextet and band,
armed with an electric guitar.
Christian was legendary for creating endless series of variations on a theme,
during sessions that could last virtually forever, in a manner whose only
precedent was pianist Art Tatum.
His Solo Flight (march 1941) with the Goodman orchestra seemed the prelude to a new kind of music altogether. Alas, he died in 1942 at 26 of turbercolosis.
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