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May 14, 2009

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mrebks

Very cool dope on Al. Haig was a Bop era master about whom I know very little; bedeviled like Bud is a shocker, for example. I commend to piano fans his late ruminative solo albums on SeaBreeze and/or Spotlite. (Some even have David Stone Martin covers, for collectors interested in that artist.)

M.MALLOY

THE ONES YOU HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR ARE THE MUSICIANS
WHO WILL STRANGLE YOU ON THE BANDSTAND DURING A GIG, I'VE HAD THAT HAPPEN TO ME!!! ITS NOT FUN.
ANOTHER GREAT READ.

Denis Ouellet

Thank you for this informative piece on Al Haig. Truly a master musician. Bud Powell and Charlie Parker clearly thought so.
Al was Bud's favorite piano player.
I love his playing. Either with Bird or Stan Getz.

In the mid seventies Al was playing at Gregory's in New York. One night I made it over there. Really wanted to talk with him, but after each set he would walk out of the club and I never caught up with him.
He ran faster than I did (-:

Grange "Lady Haig" Rutan

Dear Marc,

I Salute You! Congratulations! And My Love For You Runs Deep!

Thanks to my publisher I received your JAZZ WAX regarding Al Haig yesterday and I had to reach out into the Internet to give you stunning kudos.

I would like to comment that you have a picture of Al that was a gift to me from legendary jazz photographer William Claxton which was taken in December of 1945 when Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie brought bop to Billy Berg's in Hollywood. This photo was never published and was kept in Claxton's archives as he felt the shot with Al's eyes closed did not reflect his youthful savvy, hence it lay there until he gave it as a present which was to have been the cover of Death of a Bebop Wife.

Claxton was in Japan when Cadence was going to press to print my book and we did not get a release in writing early enough, and went with the eyes of Bonnie Haig, Al's third wife.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would pay homage to the now deceased dear friend of mine and put William Claxton's name if you ever edit or use the shot again.

Kudos Marc. I loved the piece and you are the reason newspapers are going out of business. Surely you are your mother's favorite child.

Grange "Lady Haig" Rutan

Marc Myers

Ms. Rutan,

Please get in touch with me via my email, [email protected] I can't seem to reach you.

Best,

Marc

zoot

Grange Rutan's book will be cause for reflection for anyone who admires Haig's music, as I do. She has done an extraordinary job scouring the planet for people who knew or played with Haig (two very different things). The stories about Haig's 'inner demons' are shocking. In particular Jimmy Raney comments about his nasty anti-Semitism and how he stole from Raney after he gave Al a place to crash. Others talk about his thoughtlessness and gratuitous emotional cruelty. Grange herself recounts a brief marriage to a controlling psychotic. Drugs? Who knows.

Those of us who haven't lived the life may romanticize what it was like to be a jazz musician during the mid- and late 1940s, when the music was changing dramatically. Grange's book is a vivid reminder of what a dark and dangerous experience it actually was. It's also a vivid portrayal of the artist as outsider, living beyond the edge, in free fall, a theme that resonated in American underground culture throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

None of this dilutes his art. I can listen to Wagner, too, whose intellectual crimes had far wider consequence than Haig's. Still, it does affect the experience.

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  • Marc Myers writes frequently on music and the arts for the Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (University of California Press). In 2012, JazzWax was named the Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year."

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