Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Masters of Jazz: Bebop's Greatest Hits [Rhino, 1996]
The title means what it says. These aren't the style's most seminal or scintillating performances, although Bird's famously impossible "Ko Ko" acknowledges that concept. They're its best-known tunes--standards and theme songs and novelties and genuine near-hits, "'Round About Midnight" and "Lullaby of Birdland" and "Night in Tunisia" and "Oh-Sho-Be-Do-Be." Except for a two-sided single, only the last two break the three-minute barrier of a music that was invented in the age of the 78 even if its inventors had to prove themselves in an endless gantlet of after-hours cutting sessions. Here and there, even acid jazz fans will recognize the opening bars. A