Jim Hall – R.I.P. December 10, 2013

“A light snow falls today on the wonder that is New York City. As I walk the streets and ride the subway, I glance at the faces around me. Young jazz student firebrands blow be-bop in the West 4th St. station. A young woman wearing earbuds mouths the words to a song and does some dance steps down Sixth Avenue. It is another day, a new day. But as I ponder the news received this morning that Jim Hall, one of the greatest musicians of all time and a monumental influence on me and many of my elders and colleagues, has passed away, it’s not just the blessed arrival of a new day and all its possibilities that assails me. It is the sad fact that one of the great ones has moved on, and that feeling always affects everything as I/we move forward…. “ – Nels Cline

Jim played some of the most innovative and visionary jazz throughout his career, From the late-50s, he blazed trails and made history with the Chico Hamilton Quintet (Chico, R.I.P.), the Jimmy Giuffre Three, Paul Desmond, Sonny Rollins, and in duet with Bill Evans, among many others. – Nels Cline

Jim Hall Wikipedia entry   

Jim Hall Documentary

It seems like the jazz guitarist Jim Hall has been around forever. The first time I heard him was on a Jazz Anthology LP in the mid-1960`s that, unfortunately,  also featured the superb Herb Ellis. I say unfortunately because  Herb was a blues oriented  player with an edge that, at the time, had more appeal to my youthful rock&roll sensibilities. I tended to overlook  Jim Hall. He was more laid back with a very mellow approach. It took me many years to develop a real appreciation for Jim`s approach and realize that he is one of the true giants of jazz guitar. My appreciation grew exponentially when I first obtained the Mosaic Box Set of The Complete Capital and Atlantic Recordings of Jimmy Giuffre. Recorded from 1954 through 1958. Jimmy Giuffre was a clarinetist, saxophonist and composer with a somewhat experimental approach that proved to be a perfect fit for Jim Hall.   The Complete Recordings of the Paul Desmond Quartet with Jim Hall was another milestone in my developing appreciation. Paul Desmond was definitely one of Jim’s musical soul mates and this collection features a fairly straight ahead jazz approach to many jazz standards as well as a wealth of Bossa Nova tunes. The material was recorded between 1959 though to 1965.  Like a lot of true musical giants Jim Hall recorded prolifically throughout his career and constantly evolved from one project to the next. He was not a dramatic figure; no prima donna acting out; no drug abuse issues; just a solid ordinary guy with a family, a career,  and a very professional approach to his craft.  Throughout his life he played exceptional music in a plethora of circumstances. He was still actively performing, and I don’t mean just going through the motions, right up to his death. He died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday December 10th, 2013.


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