If you’re into jazz guitar and don’t know about Jim Hall, well that’s unfortunate. But somewhat understandable. Jim’s playing is not flashy and attention-grabbing, but it is melodic and intricate. Plus he helped to define that classic mellow jazz guitar sound. Here’s the tune that introduced me to him, Sonny Rollins’s rendition of “Without a Song”:
Notice how tasteful his playing is… he’s almost soloing right along with the melody, but he doesn’t steal the spotlight. It’s as if he and Sonny are having a casual conversation the whole time. And of course that’s not to discount the excellent rhythm section, Bob Cranshaw and Ben Riley (killer brush work!).
If you want the best of Jim’s work though, I’d say it’s his 1975 album Concierto with an absolute monster line-up: Sir Roland Hanna, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, Ron Carter, and Steve Gadd. Here’s a sample track starting off with a bit of Jim’s virtuosity and creativity:
Though my favorite track on the album is the title cut, a beautiful arrangement of Rodrigo’s Conecierto de Aranjuez. Nearly twenty minutes of some of the most thoughtful and melodic improvisation that’s ever been captured. Go get it! Or better yet, go catch him playing somewhere!