Master's Strings Silenced


Jim Hall, whose gentle but strong guitar style inspired contemporaries with whom he played and generations of guitarists who followed after, died in his Greenwich Village home on Dec. 10 at age 83. This "guitarist's guitarist" first emerged from the original Chico Hamilton Quintet in the late 1950s, and provided a strong voice in Sonny Rollins' first quartet when the saxophonist ended his hiatus from performing and recording in the early 1960s. Thereafter, Hall primarily recorded and performed as a leader of his own groups.

His sensitivity as an accompanist seemed to fully bloom as a duet partner with other guitarists and bassists: Dialogues (Telarc, 1995) featured Hall with saxophonist Joe Lovano and guitarists Bill Frisell and Mike Stern; Jim Hall & Basses (Telarc, 2001) showcased his electric and acoustic guitar in conversations with Christian McBride, George Mraz, Dave Holland and Charlie Haden. Excellent duet recordings with ace bassist Ron Carter include the double-disk Telepathy (Concord Jazz, 2001), which pairs two previous standalone live recordings, and Alone Together (Original Jazz Classics, 1990), their first duet set.

Hall's sound and style greatly influenced the pastorally elegant yet homespun sound of Pat Metheny and similar, subsequent guitarists. Although Hall's wife told The New York Times that Jim Hall died of heart failure, the genuinely brilliant heart that beats throughout these and other recordings will never fail.