courtesy of the artist
Jim Hall's idiosyncratic guitar techniques have graced albums and stages with Sonny Rollins, Bill Frisell, Bill Evans, Jimmy Guifree and many more.
Jim Hall's idiosyncratic guitar techniques have graced albums and stages with Sonny Rollins, Bill Frisell, Bill Evans, Jimmy Guifree and many more. courtesy of the artist
Guitarist Rez Abbasi's new album, Things to Come, sets South Asian melodies, Indian classical vocals and modal jazz alongside each other in a beautifully complex puzzle. The Pakistan-born, L.A.- and New York-bred musician has a serious jones for guitarist Jim Hall, who happens to celebrate a birthday on Dec. 4. What better way to recognize Hall's contributions to jazz guitar than with a longtime admirer? —ed.
The most difficult hurdle a jazz musician encounters is to find a unique sound coupled with a unique vocabulary. For me, sound encompasses many facets, including feel and tone. Since most listeners of jazz tend to focus on sound, the inner structure and complexity of a phrase becomes blurred. Because most jazz musicians often focus on the chemistry of their vocabulary, developing a unique sound can take a back seat.
Guitarist Jim Hall is in a league of players who've turned the tables for jazz and their respective instruments. As far as modernizing the sound and vocabulary of jazz guitar to the degree he did, Hall is unmatched. Many other guitarists of his era were heroically proficient at emulating and expanding the nuances of bebop and post-bop vocabulary, but Hall placed great emphasis on a compositional approach to soloing. His introspection, lyricism, spontaneity and risk-taking further set him apart. His technique on one hand is idiosyncratic to the guitar, utilizing open strings and guitaristic textures, yet he is highly influenced by saxophonists and pianists. Furthermore, his use of the guitar as a miniature orchestra has become iconic.
It's possible to base an entire thesis on Hall's prolific creativity, but for now, here are five examples of his greatness in action. I could have picked virtually anything, but I chose these. When listening back for the first time in a while, I was awestruck all over again.