In Memoriam: Jim Hall

Of the memorials I’ve posted to date, this is perhaps the most meaningful to me. Jim Hall was a large influence on my approach to improvisation, and on my sense of melody. His performances on Sonny Rollins’s album The Bridge were lessons in how to shred with as few notes as possible, and his various duets are superb examples of how one may fill a sparse arrangement without aping Joe Pass. You might say that stylistically he was a Paul Desmond or Bill Evans of the guitar, and thus it is no accident that his collaborations with Desmond and Evans are among jazz music’s masterworks.

5549070759_69c298d971Hall was a well-known influence on the premiere guitarists of the past quarter-century. Metheny, Frisell, Goodrick, Abercrombie, and others have cited him as an inspiration; and yet their individual styles vary so markedly that we can comfortably assume Hall’s legacy was one of attitude, not technique. His book, Exploring Jazz Guitar was more of a series of meditations on the culture of performance than it was a collection of guitar-specific advice.

As for me, listening to Hall’s deliberate and calculated improvisations has taught me to relax and concentrate. Every sound and silence has a cause; make those causes meaningful.

This article by the Ottawa Citizen’s Peter Hum is worth the time spent reading, and even more worth the time spent watching and listening to the embedded YouTube content. Please take some time to appreciate this man’s brilliance.

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