Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Jazz Age: New York in the Twenties [RCA, 1991]
Crammed into Tin Pan Alley straitjackets by big bad bizzers or maybe just lacking in natural rhythm, these young white guys--Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Red Nichols, Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti--nevertheless sound intensely happy to be alive, so delighted with the freedoms come up the river from New Orleans that they can scarcely contain themselves. Disciplined but never sedulous, they're rollicking iconoclasts injecting greater musicians' mind-boggling innovations of pulse, phrasing, and intonation into the culture of Prohibition. They sing the spirit electric without uttering a word. A