Charlie Christian

 

Featured Inductee

It can be said without exaggeration that virtually every jazz guitarist that emerged during 1940-65 sounded like  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 Benson, the dominant influence of Christian is obvious.

Charlie Christian's time in the spotlight was terribly brief. He played piano locally in Oklahoma, and began to utilize an amplified guitar in 1937, after becoming a student of Eddie Durham, a jazz guitarist who invented the amplified guitar. John Hammond, the masterful talent scout and producer, heard about Christian (possibly from Mary Lou Williams), was impressed by what he saw, and arranged for the guitarist to travel to Los Angeles in August 1939 and try out with Benny Goodman. Although the clarinetist was initially put off by Christian, as soon as they started jamming on "Rose Room," Christian's talents were obvious. For the next two years, he would be well-featured with Benny Goodman's Sextet; there were two solos (including the showcase "Solo Flight") with the full orchestra; and the guitarist had the opportunity to jam at Minton's Playhouse with such up-and-coming players as Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, and Dizzy Gillespie. All of the guitarist's recordings (including guest spots and radio broadcasts) are currently available on CD. Tragically, he contracted tuberculosis in 1941, and died at the age of 25 on March 2, 1942. It would be 25 years before jazz guitarists finally moved beyond Charlie Christian.

D.C. Minner was born January 28, 1935. He was raised in Rentiesville by his grand mother, Lura Drennan, who ran a corn whiskey house while he grew up. “There was no electricity anywhere around, so she would have the guys come over with their acoustic guitars. That was my first time hearing live music.” said Minner.

Minner moved away when he joined the service. After he returned, he took up bass and worked out of Oklahoma City with Larry Johnson and the New Breeds. With this band, he performed behind O. V. Wright, Freddie King, Chuck Berry, Eddie Floyd, Bo Diddley and many more.

He moved to California in the late ’60s and had a band with Tony Mathews in Hollywood. Then he moved to the bay area, retired from bass, studied Yogananda, took up guitar and ran into his future wife, Selby. She was playing acoustic guitar and singing blues at clubs in Berkeley and San Francisco. With a desire to learn the electric bass, Selby became D.C.’s apprentice, and they left the bay area in 1977.

D.C., Selby and Blues on the Move toured non-stop for 12 years, and then returned to D.C.’s home place. They re-opened the Cozy Corner as the Down Home Blues Club in 1988, and it quickly became an after hours club. In 1991,
the Minners founded the Dusk ’til Dawn Blues Festival as a way to bring their fans and musician friends together from across the country.

The couple has received the Handy in Blues Education award, for their Blues in the Schools work, the Keeping the Blues Alive Award and in 1999 Minner was also inducted into The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. However, his proudest accomplishment was having his hometown rename part of the road that runs alongside the club in his honor. D.C. and Selby currently reside in Rentiesville, Okla., on D.C. Minner Street.

- See more at: http://omhof.com/inductee/d-c-minner/#sthash.HEPioTk5.dp

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