Al Haig: All God's Chillun Got Rhythm


All God's Chillun Got Rhythm


Al Haig (piano)


3/13/54 One Day Session: Vogue and Esoteric Recordings (Fresh Sounds 1625)

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Al Haig (piano), Bill Crow (bass),

Lee Abrams (drums)


Composed by Gus Kahn, Bronislau Kaper, and Walter Jurmann


Recorded: New York City, March 13, 1954


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Haig was one of the earliest significant bop pianists, playing with Bird and Dizzy in 1945 and even participated in the first Birth of the Cool nonet recording in 1949. A 1974 LP reissue that included "All God's Chillun" and other tracks from the 1954 trio session was titled Jazz Will-O'-The-Wisp, which might describe Haig's career--on the periphery, and lacking in the overall recognition he so truly deserved. Perhaps this was due to his having a playing style so different from that of the preeminent bop pianist, Bud Powell. Powell was fiery and flashy, whereas Haig was feathery and coolly flowing. If you didn't fully concentrate on the beauty, content, and impeccable execution of Haig's playing, he could easily pass you by.

If you compare Haig's 1954 "All God's Chillun" with the Sonny Stitt/Bud Powell version from December 1949, it's quite apparent that Haig possesses a much controlled and restrained passion, while Powell is living purely on the edge. Haig's rhythmically appealing intro leads to a rather choppy rendition of the melody, but his improvisation floats smoothly on air, with fairly intricate runs that seem to be very easily created. He's as relaxed as Powell is high-strung. Bud's lower octave left-hand jabs are replaced by Haig's far less noticeable left-hand chords in the middle of the keyboard. Crow's forceful bass lines and Abrams' high-spirited drumming seal the deal on this definitive example of Haig at his polished best.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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