Al Haig

A fine bebop pianist, Al Haig will come to mind as a participant on the Miles Davis “Birth of the Cool” sessions. Though this might be the primary recollection point on his resume, Al Haig was quite a player in his own right, though time has unjustly diminished his reputation.

Haig was born July 22, 1922, in Newark, New Jersey, and his early jazz leanings were heavily influenced by Teddy Wilson. Moving to New York in 1944, he started playing with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. He performed and recorded with Gillespie from 1944 to 1946, Parker from 1948 to 1950, and then joined up with Stan Getz from 1949 to 1951. Though he was best in a small combo setting, he also played in the big bands of Charlie Barnet and Jimmy Dorsey during this period. He spent a brief time with Chet Baker, in 1952, then formed his own trio and quartet which went on to record some fine bop albums from 1954 to 1957.

He went through a brief person crisis around 1968, where he was suspected then acquitted of murdering his wife. This strangely enough led to his resurgence on the jazz scene where he went on a creativity tear from 1974 up until his death in 1982. He has left quite an impressive listing of recordings and became quite a cult figure as a bop giant in his final years.

Source: James Nadal


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