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Jim Hall

A sensitive, versatile guitarist equally gifted in solo, trio or larger combo settings, Jim Hall was a dynamic jazz contributor from the '50s onward. His playing reflected the influences of Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian, and featured blues-tinged solos, carefully crafted statements, and a rich, full tone and sound. His harmonic and rhythmic subtlety, achieved without sacrificing swing or intensity, were legendary. Hall began his professional career in Cleveland as a teen, then attended the Cleveland Institute of Music. After moving to Los Angeles and studying classical guitar with Vicente Gómez, Hall joined Chico Hamilton's quintet in the mid-'50s. He was in the Jimmy Giuffre 3 from 1956 to 1959, and made his recording debut as a leader in 1957. Hall made several sessions for Pacific Jazz and Pausa in the '60s. He worked extensively in the late '50s and into the mid-'60s, though he was also encountering severe problems with alcohol. There were sessions with Ben Webster, the masterpiece Undercurrent with Bill Evans, and a stint with Ella Fitzgerald in 1960 and 1961. Hall recorded frequently with Paul Desmond, and worked with Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins, and Art Farmer. He played in the studio band for The Merv Griffin Show, worked with Evans again, and made some excellent duo records with Ron Carter. Hall divided his time in the '70s, '80s, and '90s between leading groups and doing sessions. He recorded for CTI, Milestone, Horizon, Artist House, and A&M (Japan) in the '70s, then mostly for Concord in the '80s. He recorded for MusicMasters in the '90s. Mosaic issued a comprehensive box set of his recordings with Desmond in 1987. His early Pacific Jazz recordings and much of his work with Rollins has been reissued on CD, as have some of the CTI, Fantasy, and Milestone dates. The Concord and MusicMasters sessions remain in print. Jim Hall died at his apartment in Manhattan on December 10, 2013; he was 83 years old.
© Ron Wynn & David Nelson McCarthy /TiVo


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