Jim Hall Page

Home of the Jazz Guitar Almanac

Jim Hall: jazz guitarist, composer, teacher and inspiration.

Photo by Gilbert Plantinga Copyright 1997.

Jim holds a special place in the jazz pantheon, considered by us to be as important in the history of jazz guitar as

 Charlie Christian   &   Wes Montgomery

Here are some resources on the Web that were collected by

Willie Kai Yee, M.D.

BuiltWithNOF

 All Music's Guide entry on Jim Hall, including discography and chronology

A biography up to about 1980

Selected discography.

Plenty of RealAudio samples from Jim's work are available at tunes.com

A listing of CDs available from Cheap CDs

Music Boulevard has a listing of most of Jim's recent CDs    

A review of  By Arrangement and several other Jim Hall recordings.

A transcription of Jim Hallís tune Waltz New.

Photo by Elio Guidi

Reviews and Comments on the Jim Hall & Pat Metheny album from rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz:

JIM HALL & PAT METHENY

Telarc CD-83442

Reviews and Comments from rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz

 


Subject: Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 13:34:06 -0500
From: "David C. Stephens" <dcstep@ibm.net>

I just bought the self titled CD "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny" (Telarc
CD-83442). I've been a Jim Hall fan for years and I've come to
appreciate Metheny more in the last couple of years. So take my brief
review in that context.

This is a great album. I don't know if it's on a national sale, but
Borders in Dallas had it for $11.99. It has almost 74 minutes of music.
Hall plays his electric throughout and Metheny plays electric, various
acoustics (including twelve string), fretless classical guitar and
42-string guitar. It's a mix of live and studio sessions. Unfortunately,
it's devoid of liner notes.

I've only been through the album once, but the first impression is
outstanding. The range of sounds is as wide as you would expect from
only two guitars at a time. The live performance of "Summertime"
demonstrates the type of fresh approach these two masters bring to their
material. "Summertime" opens with Pat on twelve string, flailing away in
a folk style with a high pedal tone that lasts through the whole song.
Hall does an impeccable single line solo, then Metheny does a chord
interpretation while maintaining the rhythm and pedal notes. You can
hear the changes and line to "Summertime" while Pat never misses a beat
on his folk jangle groove. Finally, Hall comes back in, taking the
harmonic texture of this song to its limits. Very impressive indeed.

"Summertime" is followed by a Metheny original "Farmer's Trust" which
would have fit nicely on his "beyond the Missouri Sky" album with
Charlie Haden. The mood changes constantly during the album. There's a
Steve Swallow song on as I type called "Cold Spring". It's full of
lyrical interplay and exchanges between Jim and Pat.

A nice feature of the album are the five short "Improvisations" that
range from fairly mainstream and melodic to extremely dissonant. They
average under two minutes, so even the wildest is not fatiguing. These
improvisations nicely demonstrate much of the range possible from two
guitars.

If you like either of these gentlemen, you'll love this album. Oh, BTW,
the sonics are superb, as is usually the case on Telarc. Anyone that has
been put off by Metheny's heavy use of compression, chorus and other
processing (robbing his music of much of its dynamics and emotion, IMHO)
will find those excesses well under control here--no doubt Metheny's
sound is still highly processed, just more to my taste here.

Enjoy,

Dave

 


Subject: "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"
Date: 11 May 1999 20:09:47 GMT
From: pjbmhb@aol.comzowza (PJBMHB)

> Metheny's
>sound is still highly processed, just more to my taste here.

i was under the impression that pat just used a guitar, cord and polytone amp
on this cd. none of his usual digital pixie dust. am i wrong?
=-) PJ

 


Subject: "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 17:28:31 -0500
From: "David C. Stephens" <dcstep@ibm.net>

PJBMHB wrote:

> i was under the impression that pat just used a guitar, cord and polytone amp
> on this cd. none of his usual digital pixie dust. am i wrong?
> =-) PJ

The twelve string is straight into a mic, as is the forty two string. All else
has varying elements of processing. The "classical" sounds like it did on
"beyond the Missouri Sky". I find that it's an attractive sound, but by no
means does it sound like any nylon and wood contraption that I've ever
played or heard.

On the first cut, Jim Hall's "Lookin' Up", Metheny mimics Hall's trademark sound
and style (a tribute I guess). It makes it interesting trying to figure out who's playing
at any given moment.

Back to Metheny's sound. It's nice, but not pure -- as in purest. He really did
turn the chorus knob down and the compression is not near as severe as usual for
him. You can actually hear the dynamics in his playing. A recent contrast that
disappointed me a lot was his performance on the recent Gary Burton CD. Pat was
playing the heck out of the guitar, but compared to the vibes, piano and bass, he had
no dynamics. I really loved what he was doing, but disappointed that it
didn't come through on the recording.

BTW, Hall doesn't disappoint. He's all about attack, sustain, perfect note choice and
pleasant surprises. Pat stood up well to Jim, but Jim's still the champ in my book.

Dave

 


Subject: "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"
Date: 12 May 1999 04:14:18 GMT
From: tritn345@aol.com (TRITN345)

I agree, this is a very special record. Hall and Metheny both live a world
where the guitar and being a guitarist are way down on their lists of things to
do - they both just play music and it happens to be on the guitar. For me, this
is a record to give to all those people who sort of don't like "jazz guitar" -
it is that, but it goes so far beyond that. So many players, and sadly so many
of the Just Jazz Guitar style guys, while being incredible "jazz guitarists" ,
just don't really do much for me outside of the realm o me being interested in
hearing what they are doing with the instrument. This record inspires me to
think and feel and BREATH. Metheny not only "nods" to Jim, but with all due
respect to Jim who is one of my favorites, Pat has taken things to a whole new
level on this record. His solo on "Falling Grace" advances the standard for
phrasing and melodic development and just shear excitement for our instrument
in one fell swope. I have transcribed this solo, studied it and just cannot get
over the amount of melodic and harmonic detail he packed into those choruses.
(Jim's amazing comping on that tune doesn't hurt either!). All through the record are
moments that are just so interesting and fullfilling. I couldn't give this record a higher
recommendation.

A few little details - on Summertime - that is a 6 string, (the Linda Manzer no
doubt) not a 12-string. I agree, the recorded sound of this record is
fantastic, especially since for me, I have thought Jim's recent Telarc records,
despite all the techie hyperbole on them, have generally sounded really,
REALLY bad. The last record, By Arrangement has to be one of the single ugliest
sounding records I have ever heard. Also, as far as I know, and I have
interviewed Metheny and asked him about this, he has NEVER used any compression
whatsoever and is totally puzzled when people start describing his sound as
having anything to do with compression. He works hard on his "dynamics within
each phrase" concept faithfully (which has always been apparent to me, for one)
and I would say that in terms of varying the volume of his lines, he and John
Scofield have practically written the book on how to do that in modern
settings.

Just one more thing - also as a dissenting voice - I thought Like Minds was
terrific and Metheny sounded amazing on there too - especially in the vary
touchy area of three comping instruments really playing a lot together and not
stepping on each other. Check out the interplay on the vamp at the end of the
first tune (Question and Answer I believe) for this - it is amazing.

Tritone

 


Subject: "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 08:30:37 GMT
From: mushmouth@mindspring.com (Keith Ganz)

"David C. Stephens" <dcstep@ibm.net> wrote:

>> i was under the impression that pat just used a guitar, cord and polytone amp
>> on this cd. none of his usual digital pixie dust. am i wrong?
>> =-) PJ

That is what it sounds like to me. I don't hear any processing besides
reverb.

Keith Ganz

 


Subject: "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 07:33:04 -0500
From: "David C. Stephens" <dcstep@ibm.net>

TRITN345 wrote:

> Just one more thing - also as a dissenting voice - I thought Like Minds was
> terrific and Metheny sounded amazing on there . . .

I didn't mean to imply that I didn't enjoy "Like Minds" very much. I was just
dissappointed in the lack of dynamics on Metheny's part. He may not have a
"compressor" in his recording chain, but all that other processing must have some
ill effect. On "Like Minds" I found the contrast between Burton's and Corea's dynamics,
as compared to Metheny's, to be very apparent. In fact, my initial impression was
something like, "Gee what nice playing, I wonder why Pat doesn't use any dynamics...
" Oh well, I still like what he's doing and in "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny", in particular,
I'm very pleased with his dynamic contrasts and relatively frugal use of effects.

Dave

 


Subject: "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"
Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 01:29:41 GMT
From: Travis Harrell <oinkballs@flash.net>

Clay Moore wrote:

> Travis Harrell wrote:
>
>> I have almost always been disappointed with albums bringing together two giants, particularly guitar albums - sort of like Godzilla meets Hydrathon whatever, they tended to seem contrived. However, after reading these glowing reviews I'll break down and buy it.
>
> Hey, there you go again! Godzilla meets Hydrathon was my favorite guitar
> duo record last year; don't be dissing it.

Godzilla and Hydrathon.......yuk! Well, as long as you believe that monster guitar stopped evolving in 1958, they're a great duo. This kind of stale monster music receives almost nothing but postive opinions by all the conservative minded neo-trad rubber suited monsters focussed contributors here IMNSHO. Well, whatever floats your boat.

 


Re: "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny"
Date: 20 May 1999 16:25:01 GMT
From: kgh@bert.WPI.EDU (Karl G. Hel

I'm having a hard time getting into the Hall/Metheny album because
it sounds very "flat" to me. I know that it's the sound that both of
them like, etc., etc., but having both of them with that sound and no
other instruments kind of turns me off. Of course, they are still both
on my favorite guitarists list.

A review of Dialogues, one of Jim's recent albums:

Jim Hall - "Dialogues"

Telarc CD-83369 (56:06)

 

What if you matched arguably the most progressive guitarist to come out of the `50s with a series of equally adventurous musicians, most of whom he's old enough to have fathered? As if to answer the question for himself, Hall penned nine of this album's ten tunes and called upon bassist Scott Colley and drummer Andy Watson, who sometimes support in the usual way, but often perform more creative duties. Two who engage him in musical conversation-- Gil Goldstein and Tom Harrell--are his old partners. And while he's played with Bill Frisell on a couple of occasions, he's only admired the work of Joe Lovano and Mike Stern from afar prior to these sessions.

Essentially textural, "Frisell Frazzle" thoroughly works a funky groove, while "Simple Things" (also with Frisell) begins obtusely, eventually settles into a kind of jazz waltz and has a gorgeous lingering ending where the two guitars intricately intertwine. "Snowbound" and the title track find Goldstein on accordion. He and Hall freely react to each other, creating what could pass as Dali's attempt at writing a soundtrack for a French film romance. The cuts with Stern provide the most guitar-intensive moments; they bop, rock, trade solos, do their things simultaneously, challenge, and generally sound like they're having a fine time. Hall and fluegelhornist Tom Harrell play together with great sensitivity, while the tunes with Lovano, although the album's most conventional, feature both musicians spinning out inspired and inspiring choruses.

A clever, open-minded concept resulting in a stunning sonic watercolor of textures, moods and grooves.

--Jim Ferguson

 Liner notes from the Jim Hall Trio, an early album

PJ-1227

JAZZ GUITAR: JIM HALL TRIO]

JIM HALL, guitar; CARL PERKINS, piano; RED MITCHELL, bass.

It's a fine thing for a musician to be allowed to record what he likes in the manner he sees fit. With such freedom, Jazz, a young art can move ahead.

This album, Jim Hall's first as a leader, is a good example of what can happen from the application of this philosophy. Here, Jim, a fine guitarist, has joined hands with Carl Perkins (piano) and Red Mitchell (bass). He has chosen to use a minimum of writing and a maximum of improvising. The trio gets an individual group sound as a result of each man's approaching his instrument in an original manner.

In Jim's playing, I find an exceptional technic combined with the confidence to use or not use this technic in creating the mood, depending on the individual situation. The full, resonant quality of his guitar shows his devoted awareness of sound.

Carl is one of the "tastiest" pianists on the jazz scene today, and has a rare combination of drive and lightness that adds an indefinable touch to this record.

The bass has always been considered a restricted instrument, but Red's approach and technic hurdle these restrictions with more than a little success; in fact, I quote Jim Hall as saying, "Red approaches the bass as though he'd never seen or heard another bassist play." There are some incredible results from this, but, then "Incredible" is Red's first, last, and middle name.

In writing or improvising, the musician mentally devises new treatments of his material, while using his feeling to make everything "come out natural." There should be a balance between the two, but feeling should have the final say. And, it definitely has the final say with these three men, and the particular feeling can be traced to the "old blues."

One more characteristic which is evident here is lyricism. The ideas are stated clearly, and each idea is given time to be absorbed before the next idea is presented. This helps make the music more understandable to the listener.

So, with the high quality of lyricism, and purity of feeling that this music achieves, you will certainly experience some delightful moods. And, after all, isn't that what music's all about?

Notes By Jimmy Giuffre

Jimmy Giuffre, one of the first and foremost of what came to be jazz "West Coast School," has always been identified with a warmly individualistic personal style of music, whether on tenor, baritone, more recently clarinet, or in his compositions. First reaching national attention as the composer of "Four Brothers," he was prominent as a member of such star-laden organizations as the Woody Herman band, Lighthouse All-Stars, and Shorty Rogers' Giants; recently he has appeared as guest soloist with the Modern Jazz Quartet, against whose soft-voiced textures his unique subtonal clarinet style was exquisitely showcased Mr. Giuffre is at present touring with his trio, featuring Jim Hall's guitar and the bass of Ralph Pena.

Jim Hall was born on December 4, 1930, in New York, but soon moved to Ohio, where in due time he received his Bachelor of Music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music. After this, he studied with Brenton Banks, whom he credits as a major influence on his musical thinking.

His strongest influences during his formative years were Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, and Barney Kessel on his instrument; however, he gives most credit to tenor players in recent years, especially Zoot Sims and Bill Perkins. His favorite jazz soloists are Tal Farlow, Jimmy Raney, Kessel, Milt Jackson, and Hampton Hawes.

Arriving in Los Angeles in February 1955, Jim undertook studies with Vincente Gomez and was almost immediately discovered by Chico Hamilton and hired as guitarist for his new Quintet. Through his association with Chico and the Quintet's cross-country tours, Jim reached national prominence as one of the country's most-heard new musicians.

A thoroughly rooted jazz musician, skilled, inventive technician, and warm, witty composer and arranger, Jim is at present with the Jimmy Giuffre trio.

13 FEBRUARY 1998

STRING WEAVER

 

review of
Jim Hall: Textures
Telarc, 1997

by JEFFREY A. KURLAND

Amateur guitarists predictably approach a new album by a pro in one of two ways: What new chops will depress me, or What new technically demanding tunes are covered? Given the popularity of guitars and the 60s-derived culture of the "guitar hero," it is too easy for the likes of John Scofield, Pat Martino, Pat Metheny, et al. to be heard as only virtuosic technicians...which some of them are. Yet of all the contemporary grand masters of this familiar instrument, Jim Hall is so brilliantly understated in solo and comping that the uninitiated and the inveterate alike may overlook his sheer musicianship, let alone his guitar chops. Jim Hall Legend #237: When Miles Davis first conceived of his breakthrough, rock-oriented album Miles in the Sky, he first sought Jim Hall (after The Bridge with Sonny Rollins, and two spectacular duo albums with Milesís former piano alumnus Bill Evans, who would doubt that assessment?) Having heard that Miles was looking for him and given Davisís somewhat unsavory reputation, Jim Hall vacated Manhattan and hid. In frustration Miles turned to George Benson, the weakest contributor to what is otherwise a truly ground-breaking album. Urban myth? Apocryphal story? No matter. The anecdote illustrates Jim Hallís well-known humility, a rare trait in the ego-driven world of jazz show biz.

Textures opens with a very American "Fanfare." It closes with the whimsical waltz "Circus Dance," with tuba and trumpet playing an outside, somewhat dissonant fugue, returning to the first themes of "Fanfare." In between, the album is a set of profoundly and charmingly crafted pieces composed by Hall that explore the "textures" of twentieth century art music in its classical, popular, and jazz forms. This eclecticism should be no surprise to anyone who knows that Hall earned a degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music in composition (his graduation exam, a chamber concerto, can be heard on Jim Hall and Friends in Town Hall, volume 1 [Music Master, 1991]). It is, of course, no surprise to Hall's daughter Devra, who underscores in the liner notes the fact that the compositional roots of jazz can be found in both its improvisational and orchestral forms.

Such forms are in abundant evidence on Textures. In "Fanfare," Gil Evans meets John Philip Sousa by way of Charles Ives to celebrate the weaving counterpoint that Hall loves. The ghost of Evans haunts this composition and "Reflections" (based on the modal vamp from Miles Davis's "So What," but with a cleverer turnaround), in which brass and timpani are used to produce a whacked percussive effect. With "Ragman," the loom-like interweaving of different musical forms begins to develop in earnest. This composition, like "Quadrologue" and "Passacaglia" (my favorite), reflects Berg, Schoenberg, Webern and their interpretations of Bach. Playful introductions, syncopated modal scales, and jazz improvisations shift these pieces into the realm of blues inflections and motifs. Each middle section shifts to in-the-pocket swing, just in case the listener was lulled into thinking these guys were a bunch of classically-trained jazz wannabes. One can hear the timbre and textural roots of Pat Metheny, as well as many of the current generation of jazz guitarists like Bill Frissell, Vic Juris, Peter Bernstein, et al.

Textures is a fine set of subtle compositions whose colors and textures improve with repeated listening. It makes clear not only the virtuosity of Jim Hall, guitarist, but also the lesser known maturity and strength of Jim Hall, composer. Hall chose a fine set of musicians to realize his compositions: Joe Lovano on soprano saxophone stands out on "Ragman"; Scott Colley on bass; Derek DiCenzo on steel drum; Terry Clark on drums; Ryan Kisor on trumpet; Jim Pugh on trombone; Claudio Roditi on fluegelhorn with his fine introduction to "Reflections"; and conductor Gil Goldstein. I found myself remembering Fellini movies, like La Dolce Vita, , Juliet of the Spirits, and even Satyricon, with their evocation of lifeís sweet and often bitter poignancy.

ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT © 1997, 1998 EKRANO MAGAZINE

Here are transcriptions of two of Jim Hallís guitar solos. We would like to thank Michael Pettersen for the transcriptions and for making them available here. Pettersenís notes regarding the solo follow each example.

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