Black Jazz guitarists

June 7, 2016

NYC jazz

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Jazz guitarist, composer and arranger Jim Hall died in his sleep earlier this week. He was 83. Hall was known for a subtle, lyrical playing style; a gift for innovation; and collaborations with a host of talented musicians; in a career that stretched over seven decades. Critic Andrew Gilbert called Hall one of jazz's most respected improvisors; an artist who wields his guitar like a paintbrush, shaping and shading each note to achieve just the right hue and texture.

Hall played guitar as a teenager, and got a degree in music theory in 1955. He was an original member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet, and his 1962 album with saxophonoist Sonny Rollins, "The Bridge, " created a stir in the jazz world. Hall went on to play with many other artists including Bill Evans, Paul Desmond and Ella Fitzgerald, and influenced a generation of jazz guitarists. In 2004, he earned a Jazz Master's Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

He was still performing as recently as this summer. Terry spoke to Jim Hall near Christmastime in 1989. They began by listening to Hall's duet with bassist Ron Carter, "Alone Together, " from their CD, "Telephone."



Guitarist Jim Hall from his first album called "Jazz Guitar." How old were you when you made that record?

JIM HALL: Let's see, 26, I guess - 25, 26, I think.

GROSS: What were you working on, on your playing at that time?

HALL: I thought you were going to say what was I wearing? What was I wearing?



GROSS: No, you're playing, you know, what were you really concerned with at that time?

HALL: I was just thinking about that as the record was playing. I think I probably loved Zoot Sims and Lester Young about then. And I can kind of hear that in my playing. I sounded like, I was around Zoot Sims a lot for a period of years and I loved his rhythmic sense, his sense of time. And I loved Lester's melodic sense. So it sounds like kind of a combination of the two of them and a little bit of Charlie Christian. And those were a little shorter than the way I play now. Sounded pretty good, actually. I enjoyed hearing that.

GROSS: I think sounds real good.


Jim Hall speaking with Terry Gross, recorded in 1989. We'll hear more after break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And we're listening to Terry's interview with jazz guitarist, composer and arranger, Jim Hall, who died Tuesday at the age of 83. They spoke in 1989.

Over the years, you've played with many different musicians, including Jimmy Giuffre - who you mentioned.

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