Down Beat Critics' Choice

Jim Hall

Down Beat Critics Choice
  • Release Date: 22 Oct 2002
  • Label: TELARC
  • Genre: JAZZ
  • CAT # 83557-25

    1. Dream Steps 4:47
    2. Stern Stuff 5:13
    3. Snowbound 6:21
    4. Fanfare 6:56
    5. Quadrologue 4:44
    6. Circus Dance 4:24
    7. Pan-O-Rama 8:30
    8. Furnished Flats 6:56
    9. October Song 6:41
    10. The Wind 6:56
    11. Abstract 3 5:11
    12. Tango Loco 5:31

“Some musicians become cautious late in life whittling the grand concepts of youth to a more approachable scale. But Jim Hall’s moves have been refined from the get-go...Time has only enhanced Hall’s imagination.” —Jim Macnie, Down Beat

Jim Hall has been recognized for decades as one of the most influential guitarists in jazz, but it is his recent work on Telarc that sets the standard for what it means to be a complete jazz musician. Jim Hall Down Beat Critics’ Choice spotlights a dozen of the guitar legend’s finest Telarc tracks. This anthology also includes insightful commentary from Down Beat writers on Hall’s enduring genius and his undeniable impact on modern jazz.

Down Beat Critics’ Choice opens with three selections from Dialogues, his 1995 release of duets: “Dream Steps” with Tom Harrell on flugelhorn, “Stern Stuff” with Mike Stern on guitar, and “Snowbound” with Gil Goldstein on accordion and bass accordion. A master of understatement, Hall has always been dedicated to the proposition that music is a conversation among equals.

Textures, released in 1997, focused on Hall’s compositional skills. Although he may not be best known for his writing, “Fanfare,” “Quadrologue” and “Circus Dance” are full of nuance and sensitivity, and involve Hall’s guitar as much as his pen. Recorded live at the Village Vanguard in New York City, “Pan-O-Rama” with pianist Geoff Keezer and “Furnished Flats” with alto saxophonist Greg Osby are two lyrical Hall contributions from 1997’s Panorama.

By Arrangement, released in 1998, was a showcase for Hall’s unique arranging talents and clasical training. “October Song” and “The Wind” (with Osby and The New York Voices) are culled from this formidable release and flirt with exciting formal ideas. Rich in commentary and shading, “Abstract 3” and “Tango Loco” from last year’s Jim Hall & Basses feature Scott Colley and George Mraz working together in mesmerizing counterpoint.

Born in Buffalo, New York, on December 4, 1930, and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Hall got his first guitar as a Christmas present from his mother when he was 10. By the age of 13, he had become a professional musician and was soon listening to the guitar work of Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. Upon graduation from high school, Hall entered the Cleveland Institute of Music where he majored in music theory. He eventually headed to Los Angeles, and, in 1955, as an original member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet, began to attract international attention. During 1956-59, he performed with the Jimmy Giuffre Three. By 1960, Hall arrived in New York City to work with Sonny Rollins and Art Farmer, among many others.

Although Hall long ago achieved status and fame as a jazz artist, he has never been one to sit back and coast. Jim Hall Down Beat Critics’ Choice reveals how truly innovative he continues to be.

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