Archive

ShareThis Page
Jazz guitarist Jim Hall was 1st to receive genre’s highest honor | TribLIVE.com
Obituary Stories

Jazz guitarist Jim Hall was 1st to receive genre’s highest honor

The Associated Press
| Saturday, November 8, 2014 12:01 a.m.
MusicObitJimHallJPEG03e01
FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 21, 2007, file photo, guitarist Jim Hall, right, plays with Geoffrey Keezer, left, on piano during the 50th annual Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, Calif. Hall, one of the leading jazz guitarists of the modern era, whose subtle technique, lyrical sound and introspective approach strongly influenced younger proteges such as Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, died early Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at age 83, his wife said. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Jim Hall, one of the leading jazz guitarists of the modern era, whose subtle technique, lyrical sound and introspective approach strongly influenced younger proteges such as Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, died early Tuesday at age 83, his wife said.

Hall died in his sleep after a short illness at his Greenwich Village apartment in Manhattan, said Jane Hall, his wife of 48 years, who described her husband as “truly beloved by everybody who ever met him.”

Hall, who led his own trio since the mid-1960s, remained active until shortly before his death. Last month, his trio performed a concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room with guest guitarists John Abercrombie and Peter Bernstein. He had been planning a duo tour in Japan in January with bassist Ron Carter, a longtime partner.

In 2004, Hall became the first of the modern jazz guitarists to be named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, the nation’s highest jazz honor.

“Jim was one of the most important improvising guitarists in jazz history. His musical generosity was an exact reflection of his deep humanity,” guitarist Metheny, who performed and recorded in a duo with Hall, wrote in an email.

In the mid-1950s, as a member of pianist Jimmy Giuffre’s innovative trio and drummer Chico Hamilton’s chamber jazz quartet, Hall transformed the role of the guitar in jazz with his understated melodic and minimalist approach.

“What seems kind of frivolous and doesn’t really impress me is guys, people, women … who have amazing technique but everything sounds worked out,” Hall said in a 2003 interview for the National Endowment for the Arts. “They go through these chord changes with all these chops.

“Usually I wish I had the kind of technique to do that and then not do it, sort of. I like to make some kind of composition happen while I’m playing. That involves motive development. … I also love melodies. So I try to play melodies over tunes — have it go someplace and then come back.”

The noted German jazz writer Joachim-Ernst Berendt once described Hall as “the perfect musical partner.” The guitarist was known for his duo and small group recordings with some of the greatest names in jazz during the past 60 years, including saxophonists Sonny Rollins, Gerry Mulligan, Ornette Coleman and Paul Desmond, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Red Mitchell and singer Ella Fitzgerald.

As a member of Rollins’ quartet in the early 1960s, Hall appeared on the landmark 1962 album “The Bridge,” which was the tenor saxophonist’s first recording after a three-year hiatus during which he practiced his chops on the Williamsburg Bridge. The saxophonist’s fiery playing contrasted with Hall’s subdued guitar lines.

“Jim was an essentially beautiful human being,” Rollins said in an email. “I don’t know anybody who didn’t love him, including myself. He was the consummate musician and it was a privilege to work with him.”

Hall is survived by his wife, a psychoanalyst, and his daughter, who was married to the late NEA Jazz Master John Levy, a bassist who is credited as the first African-American personal manager in jazz.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.