It was jazz's version of the Holy Grail, Plato's lost Dialogue or the 181/2 minutes missing from Richard Nixon's White House tapes.

And now the hunt is over.For decades, musicologists had searched for legendary lost recordings of saxophonist Charlie Parker, who many consider jazz's greatest player and its most tragic hero.

The tapes - made in the 1940s by devoted Parker fan Dean Beneditti in smoky nightclubs - were said to contain "Bird's" greatest playing and were believed to be the key to understanding the birth of bebop.

But no one knew for certain because the treasured recordings had disappeared.

Now, however, jazz fans can judge for themselves.

The tapes have been found, cleaned up, painstakingly annotated and released in an ambitious 10-hour package by Mosaic Records, a mail-order record company in Connecticut.

The music is almost all exclusively Parker solos, adding a third more Parker solos to recordings previously available.

Stamford, Conn.-based Mosaic, which specializes in historic jazz recordings, says actor Clint Eastwood played a part in convincing the Beneditti family to release the tapes that had lay hidden away for years in a closet.