Born: February 27, 1923 Primary Instrument: Guitar, electric
Had Charlie Christian not died of tuberculosis at age 25 in 1942, he certainly would have been the first guitarist to record bebop. His single-string attack on Up on Teddy's Hill with Dizzy Gillespie, captured live at Minton's in 1941, was clearly ahead of its time. But the solo was more blues than bop, a jazz form that hadn't been fully formed yet. The first bebop guitar solo recorded in a studio would come three years later, on February 9, 1945 when Dizzy Gillespie led a sextet on two tracks for Guild Records.
The guitarist on the date was Chuck Wayne, who today is more closely associated with the George Shearing Quintet and Tony Bennett's early records. During the 1950s, Wayne appeared extensively as a sideman on other artists' recordings, making only three albums as a leader during the decade. Among the finest was String Fever in 1957.
Wayne was born in New York and began his career as a mandolinist in a Russian balalaika band. When his mandolin began to warp, he reportedly tossed it into the furnace and bought a guitar. To earn a living, Wayne worked as an elevator operator and began to play guitar professionally in 1941, quickly becoming a regular in the clubs on New York's 52nd Street....