Friday, November 13, 2009
Al Haig Plays the Music of Jerome Kern (1978)
Veteran bop survivor Al Haig plays four unaccompanied piano solos, has four duets with bassist Jamil Nasser, and backs singer and producer of this obscure album Helen Merrill on "They Didn't Believe Me." Although Jerome Kern did not care for jazz, his songs have long been viable vehicles for jazz improvisations, and Haig picked out some of the best ones for the date, including The Way You Look Tonight, All the Things You Are and The Song Is You.
Original LP cover
"...There is a curious sense of history revisited, or rewritten, in the release of this album by Al Haig. More than three decades ago, in 1947, Haig was a member of the large orchestra (woodwings, strings, French horns) conducted by Johnny Richards for a Dizzy Gillespie record session. The date was dedicated to Jerome Kern; in fact, two of the four songs recorded, The Way You Look Tonight and All the Things You Are are found in the present Haig collection.
As one of the first and most gifted pianists to become involved in the revolutionary new jazz of the period, Haig was in and out of the bebop scene for several years, working from time to time with big bands such as Charlie Barnet’s or Jimmy Dorsey’s, but also answering calls from Dizzy or Bird.
The present album finds Al in his element, provided with material from the long-prolific pen of Jerome Kern. Haig’s version of Yesterdays (introduced in a 1933 musical, Roberta) finds him in a reflective mood, with fills and ornamentations that are at times evocative of Art Tatum. It is interesting that even on the up tempo pieces such as I’m Old Fashioned, Al bears little resemblance to Bud Powell, who was generally accepted in his day as the pace-setting bebop pianists. The supple bass work on this and other tracks is by Jamil Nasser..." ~from the 1980 liner notes.
The Way You Look Tonight
Can I Forget You
I'm Old Fashioned
All The Things You Are
The Song Is You
They Didn't Believe Me (Helen Merrill, vcl)
The Folks Who Live on The Hill
personnel: Al Haig (p), Jamil Nasser (b), Helen Merrill (vcl, producer)
rec Downtown Sound, NYC, 1978