Al Haig was one of the top bop pianists of the 1945-49 period. This is the first of three albums put out by the British Spotlite label that features Haig (mostly as a sideman) during his prime years. Studio sides and more extended live performances are mixed together throughout the series. For the first LP, Haig is heard in quartets led by tenors John Hardee, Coleman Hawkins (three live numbers, including a nearly seven-minute version of "Stuffy"), and Wardell Gray, plus backing the short-lived bop singer Buddy Stewart on "Shawn" and leading his Five Bops (a sextet with Stewart, trombonist Kai Winding and Al Epstein on tenor) for two songs. The recording quality is reasonable for the period, and Haig keeps up with (and often inspires) the horn players. Bop collectors will want all three sets in this series.
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