Remembering Charlie Christian: The Benny Goodman Sextet, “Wholly Cats”

Charlie Christian was born on this day in 1916. His time in the spotlight was tragically short-lived. He died in 1942, aged 25, after contracting tuberculosis. Yet, he is known as a deeply influential musician. He was one of the finest improvisers of the swing era and one of the first heralded artists of the bebop movement. He also helped pioneer improvisation on electrically amplified equipment and bring the guitar to the forefront as a solo instrument.

He first gained widespread notoriety with Benny Goodman, with whom he began performing in 1939. Goodman was one of the most popular bandleaders of the swing era. He featured Christian prominently on such celebrated recordings as “Wholly Cats.” This take on the song with Goodman’s sextet is from 1940. It also includes Count Basie on piano.

Like this article?  Get more when you subscribe.

Join Our Newsletter
Join thousands of other jazz enthusiasts and get new music, artists, album, events and more delivered to your inbox.

The Authoritative Voice in Jazz

As part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re offering an exclusive all-women CD featuring some of the greatest jazz artists in the world, including Carla Bley, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jane Bunnett, Brenda Russell, Michele Rosewoman, Leni Stern, Gabriela Anders and Keely Smith.

to claim yours for free by gifting a friend a subscription.