“If Ever I Should Leave You” - Sonny Rollins with Jim Hall, 1962
Very sorry to hear about the passing of yet another jazz great, guitarist Jim Hall. He played on way too many amazing records to be listed here, but if you haven’t heard his duet album with Bill Evans, Undercurrent, stop what you’re doing and go find it. Hall played quite a bit with Sonny Rollins too, as captured here in the early 60s. There are very, very few improvisers who could go toe-to-toe with Rollins, but Hall does it with grace and ease, constructing a solo that’s both technically dazzling and as breezy as can be. RIP.
Jazz guitarist, composer and arranger Jim Hall died on Tuesday in his sleep. He was 83. Hall was known for a subtle, lyrical playing style, a gift for innovation, and collaborations with a host of talented musicians in a career that stretched over seven decades. Critic Andrew Gilbert called Hall “one of jazz’s most respected improvisers, an artist who wields his guitar like a paintbrush, shaping and shading each note to achieve just the right hue and texture.”
Hall played guitar as a teenager and got a degree in music theory in 1955. He was an original member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet, and his 1962 album with saxophonist Sonny Rollins, The Bridge created a stir in the jazz world. Hall went on to play with many other artists, including Bill Evans, Paul Desmond and Ella Fitzgerald and influenced a generation of jazz guitarists. In 2004 he earned a Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was still performing as recently as this summer. Terry spoke to Jim Hall near Christmas time in 1989.
December 27, 1965 - an amazing number of jazz performers showed up to play a WBAI benefit at the Village Gate. The crowd was so big that Art D'Lugoff had to open another room, the Top of the Gate, and each of these great musicians appeared in both places! Monk’s manager, Jules Colomby, helped get it all together. Monk came early and fell asleep in the kitchen—it was a somewhat hectic but memorable night.
Before they performed as a duo in Montreal in 1990, jazz guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Charlie Haden had recorded only one session together 20 years before. The album of their concert is now out. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it’s an unofficial memorial album. Hall passed away last December, and Haden in July:
“It’s good to hear informal conversations between great musicians—these two obviously hadn’t worked much out in advance. It’s not the best thing either one ever did. But since Jim Hall loved playing duets with bass, and Charlie Haden loved duos with guitarists, and Hall thought of bass as an extension of guitar, and Haden could sound like he was picking a giant six-string, this 1990 meeting was a good idea waiting to happen. But not so good that the album came out before now."