Bop pianist Al Haig was unfortunately overlooked, with few opportunities to record for a long stretch in the middle of his career. Fortunately, this Original Jazz Classics compilation highlights several sessions recorded between 1949 and 1954 for Period. The first eight tracks feature bassist Bill Crow and drummer Lee Abrams, where Haig's light touch is especially of interest. A number of these pieces were recorded by Art Tatum, but Haig puts his own stamp on them, inserting a humorous bit of "Sing, Sing, Sing!" into an easygoing "Taboo" (to contrast with Tatum's showstopping virtuoso arrangement) and offering a rambunctious bop treatment of "Just You, Just Me" as a quicky. Four tracks feature Haig in a group with tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray and guitarist Jimmy Raney, with vocalist Terry Swope scatting in unison on two of them. Best is Haig's potent original "In a Pinch." Stan Getz is present (along with Raney) on the last four selections, including a breezy take of Haig's "Skull Buster" (a transparent reworking of "[Back Home Again In] Indiana") and the pianist's lighthearted "Poop Deck." Released as a limited-edition reissue in 2000, bop fans are advised not to tarry if interested in this excellent compilation of Al Haig's early recorded efforts.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden