Charlie Christian - All Star Jump

I've generally not been one to do my own transcriptions. For one, I find transcribing very, very difficult. And two, I'd generally rather spend what little patience I have for transcribing on taking down arrangements for one of my bands. But the other night, I found myself really driven to figure out Charlie Christian's solo on "All Star Jump," recorded January 16, 1941.

"All Star Jump" is one of my favorite recordings, both from a musician and a dancer's perspective.  The Metronome All Star Band of 1941 featured no less than Charlie Christian, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Cootie Williams, Harry James, Ziggy Elman, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins and Buddy Rich. It's one of my favorite versions of "One O'Clock Jump", albeit with a slightly different shout riff. It's filled with fantastic solos, and unlike many "all star" sessions where the players seem to have no chemistry, the band really jumps. "All Star Jump" is something I almost always play when I DJ, and I've transcribed the arrangement for the Jonathan Stout Orchestra. (The other tune recorded on that session was "Bugle Call Rag", using the Fletcher Henderson arrangement made famous by Benny Goodman. The All Stars' version is easily the tightest and most ferocious recording of that arrangement. But CC doesn't get a solo.)

That CC solo, though, is something I'd never seen transcribed (although maybe it was on Garry Hansen's now defunct site), but I could generally sing it back from memory. I was able to get the first three bars without trouble, but I'd started it around the 9th fret. I couldn't get the next couple bars to lay right on the fretboard. In a moment of frustration, I went to check Leo Valdez's Site to see if maybe he did have one up. Instead I found myself looking at another one of his transcriptions and the playing notes he provided. He mentioned that he had a different outlook on how to finger CC's playing versus more common transcirptions. While some of his fingering just seem implausible, many do lay better.

With than in mind, I tried playing the "All Star Jump" solo in the 4th-6th position, and using some of Charlie's classic shapes in that position, and the next couple bars clicked. So, since I figured I should write it out to keep for myself, I though I'd share.

Have fun - maybe when I have some time, I'll write some notes and analysis. But for now:

Charlie Christian - "All Star Jump" (pdf)

All Star Jump - Metronome All Stars (excerpt) by campusfive