Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sonny Rollins: Ken Burns Jazz [Verve, 2000]
Epitomized in 11 flawless 1954-1966 tracks is jazz's greatest living improviser as questing modernist, before he settled into his seigneury at Milestone. Almost every player is a titan trying: Davis and Gillespie and Brown, Hawkins and Stitt, Silver and Flanagan and Bley, Clarke and Roach and Jones. Yet Rollins owns every track. On straight bebop and postmodernism crossing the bridge, "Body and Soul" and "St. Thomas" and "I'm an Old Cowhand," his fluid, muscular, sardonically confident sound justifies his omnivorous appetites and vitalizes his twistiest abstractions. I'm not literate enough to explain what "Alfie's Theme Differently" has to do with "Alfie." But I bet Burt Bacharach thought about it for a good long time. A+