Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Prestige Legacy, Vol. 1: The High Priests [Prestige, 2000]
Here's an opportunistic little comp I grab when Carola feels like "some jazz." It's a time capsule of how the music was recorded 50 or 60 years ago, with plenty of care and not much conceptual panache. Four tracks apiece to leaders Davis and Coltrane, three to Rollins, five to Monk, and for me it's Monk who's something like a ringer, first because three of his lack saxophone, as does only one of the Davises, and second because this was his classic era. Not so with Davis, better on Columbia, or Coltrane, better on Impulse or Atlantic--both of them sorcerers' apprentices, playing with a youthful ease soon to be honed into singular command but in this context more redolent of the great culture that made their genius possible. And none of Rollins's three, my favorite of which honors a Victor Herbert tune, are on either Silver City or his single-disc Prestige best-of. Also scattered about are ace sax cameos by two sidemen: Charlie Parker, meet Davey Schildkraut. A-