Jim Hall 1930-2013

Guitar Techniques - - Intro -

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

Pat Metheny

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!

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