Charlie Green

Charlie Green, the trombonist who first combined a big sound and an improvisational sense of swing with jazz was “Big”. Green joined Fletcher Henderson’s group just before Louis Armstrong arrived. He was briefly in the forefront of melodic jazz innovation. Green was also a successful sideman with singers. He was one of the first to successfully improvise alongside a vocalist. His creativity in blues idioms and mastery with “gut-bucket”, such as growls, and the use plunger mutes are evident in his collaboration with Bessie Smith. “Trombone Cholly” was recorded in his honor in 1927. Green was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on December 18, 1895. He was a member of various Omaha brass bands, including Red Perkins (1920-1924). In July 1924, he moved to New York to join Fletcher Henderson’s band. This was just months before Louis Armstrong joined the ensemble. Green’s improvisational skills were impressive even before Armstrong arrived. Green can be heard on Henderson’s recordings “Hard Hearted Hannah”, “The Gouge of Armour Avenue” and “A New Kind of Man”. These two recordings feature Green using a plunger mute, demonstrating an advanced knowledge of how to use it to great advantage. Armstrong’s arrival in New York raised the profile of Henderson and his orchestra. They recorded extensively during that period. Green was still a featured soloist as can be heard on many recordings, such as at the end “He’s The Hottest Man In Town” or “Shanghai Shuffle.” In “Words,” he plays long notes above the trumpet figure, displaying his more poetic side. Green formed a friendship with Jimmy Harrison, a fellow trombonist. After Harrison arrived in New York, he challenged Harrison directly at several “cutting contests” in Harlem. Harrison was ultimately New York’s best jazz trombonist and replaced Green in Fletcher Henderson’s band. However, Green’s services were still in high demand. He was also the first-call trombonist to blues singers, including Bessie Smith. Fletcher Henderson was the pianist on his first recording with Smith in 1924. Green shines through the sparse instrumentation, and his bluesy improvisations were a popular early model for horn players backing singers. His use of space, various voice-like phrases, and effects, often using a plunger mutes, gives the impression that the trombone is a backing singer in the group. Green worked with Henderson until 1926 when he moved to New York as a sideman. In the next two years, Green was associated with many of New York’s most prominent musicians, including Louis Armstrong and June Clark. In March 1927, he recorded his most memorable recordings with Bessie Smith. This included “Trombone Chlly”, which featured Green on trombone and lyrics about his playing. The song is full of self-expression and shows Green at his best. He can demonstrate a variety of trombone techniques, despite having a limited number of pitches. To dispel any doubts about his ability to play high, Green wails out a high Bb at end of recording in case they are. In 1928, Green replaced Henderson’s longtime sideman Benny Morton in Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra. Green stayed with Henderson about one year. Green even briefly played with Jimmy Harrison in the band, but he preferred Harrison for the trombone solos. Green recorded with Henderson until 1929 when he left the band. He also joined Zutty Singleton’s band for a while. For the next few decades, he continued to perform with several prominent ensembles including Jimmy Noone, Elmer Snowden and Charlie Johnson. He replaced Jimmy Harrison in Chick Webb’s Orchestra in 1932. Green was able to take part in one of the great Louis Armstrong sessions in the 1930s thanks to his association with Webb. It was billed as Louis Armstrong with Chick Webb u0026 His Orchestra in December 1932. These records give Green a chance to play a few solos, including on “Hobo, You Can’t Ride This Train” (and “You’ll Wish You’d Never Been Born”) These tracks have a mature sounding trombone that is not as evident on Green’s previous recordings. He starts by using his flexibility to play fast and plays more in the upper register. He plays jazz-inspired licks on the second track and can hold his own even at a fast tempo. As it turned out, this recording session would be Green’s final. He was suffering from alcoholism at this point, and his health began to decline. He joined Louis Metcalf in 1933 and then briefly performed with Kaiser Marshall, 1935. In November of that year, he died from complications from tuberculosis. He was also affected by an accident in which he fell outside his door in the cold and couldn’t find the key to his apartment. From

Leave a Comment