Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall [Original Jazz Classics, 1991]
Date: 5/15/53. Length: 47 minutes. Place: Toronto, Ontario. Band: Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charlie Mingus, Max Roach, and clandestine alto saxophonist Charlie "Chan." Never mind the apparently similar Diz N Bird at Carnegie Hall (24 minutes of a quintet that adds John Lewis, Al McKibbon, and Joe Harris to the two horns before turning into a big band record) or the hosannahed Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945 (38 Bird-Diz-Roach minutes substituting Parker's studio-favored Al Haig-Curly Russell piano-bass combo). Without question, this is live Bird numero uno even though the setlist belongs to Dizzy, including the inevitable (and dandy) "Salt Peanuts" and "Night in Tunisia." Parker's relaxed, bluesy mood is epitomized by a seriously interactive "All the Things You Are" that shifts bar-by-bar between virtuoso phrases and soulful here's-the-melody before dissolving into a "52nd Street Theme" breakdown. Gillespie is lyrical and incisive, Powell brings his A game, Roach thunders like no post-swing drummer working, and Mingus's bass is the most expressive in classic bebop. O Canada! A