Jim Hall

One of the giants of jazz guitar, Jim Hall (b. 1930) has always had a quiet sound, a harmonically adventurous style, and the desire to look ahead rather than behind.

Hall studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and classical guitar with Vincente Gomez. The guitarist first gained attention during 1955-1956 as an original member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet, one of the major West Coast chamber-jazz groups. Hall followed that up by being with a few versions of the Jimmy Giuffre Three during 1956-1959 including a period when the group was a trio consisting of Giuffre’s reeds, valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and Hall’s guitar, which functioned as the entire rhythm section. Hall also worked with Ella Fitzgerald, Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins (recording the classic album The Bridge), Art Farmer, and Paul Desmond in addition to working in New York as a studio musician.

During 1971-1972 Hall led two albums for Milestone. Where Would I Be? is a well-rounded quartet outing that features keyboardist Benny Aronov and Airto on drums while Alone Together, a set of duets with bassist Ron Carter, is considered one of Hall’s classics. The subtle interplay between the two musicians makes the standards sound brand-new and full of surprises.

Since then, Jim Hall has led many small groups. In the 1980s he recorded a trio of rewarding projects for Concord. Circles teams him with Don Thompson (doubling on bass and piano) and drummer Terry Clarke. Jim Hall’s Three has Hall stretching out on two guitar solos and a set of trio numbers with bassist Steve La Spina and drummer Akira Tana. And 1989’s All Across the City has an eclectic program performed with keyboardist Gil Goldstein, LaSpina, and Clarke.

Cited as a major inspiration by many guitarists from later generations, including Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Bill Frisell, Jim Hall continues in the 21st century as one of the most vital jazz guitarists alive.