Jim Hall 1930-2013
We’re sad to report that legendary jazz guitarist Jim Hall passed away in his sleep in his Manhattan, New York appartment on December 10, aged 83. Jim’s restrained and subtle solo style was unique and a huge influence on Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Mick Goodrick, John Abercrombie, Mike Stern and Bill Frisell, who all went on to become prominent jazz and fusion players themselves.
Jim was born in Buffalo, New York, and began playing the guitar at age 10. As a teenager, he was fascinated by the solos of Charlie Christian and saxophonists Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. He began transcribing them while also playing in local bands. Jim joined Chico Hamilton’s quintet in 1955 and by the early 60s he had played with the likes of Jimmy Giuffre, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, and a host of other jazz greats.
Jim developed into an outstanding improviser, with a style that was subtle, cerebral and nuanced. His collaborations with pianist Bill Evans are particularly celebrated; their albums, Interplay (1962), Undercurrent (1963), and especially Intermodulation (1966), are regarded by many as some of the best jazz records of all time. Jim’s solo albums, Jazz Guitar (1957) and Live! (1975) were a big influence on others; you can also hear him on Ella Fitzgerald’s Ella In Berlin: Mack The Knife (1960) and The Bridge (1962) with Sonny Rollins.
Jim wasn’t impressed by sheer technique, and once said that he’d rather hear BB King play three notes than listen to an hour of technical guitar wizardry, as “there’s something about BB’s
Jim’s musical generosity was an exact reflection of his deep humanity
intelligence”. However he did admire several accomplished younger guitarists, especially Pat Metheny, with whom he recorded the duet album, Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (1999). Pat was one of the first to pay tribute to this fine guitarist: “Jim was one of the most important improvising guitarists in jazz history. His musical generosity was an exact reflection of his deep humanity”.
Jim Hall: a true jazz giant!