Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap [no label/Weatherbird, 2003]
Gary Giddins Jazz, I call it. Not officially for sale and never will be, permissions being the slough of greed, vanity, and indifference they are. But available on the Net to those as know how, I am assured by one of the two nuts of my acquaintance who copied, borrowed, ripped, and otherwise purloined a six-CDR set comprising the 1945-2001 choice cuts our greatest jazz critic annotated for the June 11, 2002, Voice. Beyond the cross-generational ecumenicism Giddins champions--the assumption that jazz musicians are artists for life, so that a supernally lucid summation by 78-year-old Benny Carter takes the 1985 prize--is a music in which intellection harnesses energy and feeling and rides them hard toward the horizon. The selections are sometimes too avant for my tastes, and insufficiently electric (Craig Harris over Blood Ulmer in 1983?!); I wouldn't agree they're all "great records." But the vast majority come close enough. Among the artists I'd never have believed could dazzle me like this are Art Pepper, Gil Evans, Tommy Flanagan, Stan Getz, George Russell, and, I admit it, Sarah Vaughan. Why had I barely heard of Sonny Criss? How the fuck did I miss "Little Rootie Tootie"? A+