Jim Hall died today at the age of 83. One of the true masters of the Jazz guitar, he had a fruitful career that began in the 1950s and continued into the 2010s. I love Jim Hall.
I first heard him on Alone Together, a live 1972 duo recording with Ron Carter that I picked up early on because I recognized Ron’s name. I love the intimacy and space that is possible in duo recordings and Alone Together—along with a few other live recordings of the two—is a fine example of this.
Another great duo is the one with Bill Evans. They released two albums together: Undercurrent and Intermodulation. I’m partial to Undercurrent because I got it first, but they’re both great.
Jim Hall sounds fantastic on Sonny Rollins’ The Bridge. This was Sonny Rollins’ triumphant return from his first sabbatical—which lasted about three years—and marks the beginning of a more experimental period for the saxophonist. It’s called The Bridge because, during his sabbatical, Sonny practiced on the Williamsburg Bridge.
One of my favorite records of all time is another Jim Hall duo: Jim Hall & Red Mitchell, recorded live at Sweet Basil’s in 1978. When I was getting into Red Mitchell, who deserves an article of his own, I found the LP in my university’s music library, listened to it, and immediately ran home to get my laptop to rip it to MP3. I think it’s out of print now, but some vinyl copies can still be found on the internet. The album is miraculously available on Grooveshark, so go listen to it right now!
As Red Mitchell says in the liner notes, “Jim Hall is a great little band.”