Jim Hall: Blues In The Closet

11 Dec

Jim Hall was a pre-teen when he started playing guitar; he was living with a single mother in a Cleveland housing project, according to an NPR profile.

Hall, who died this week at age 83 less than a month after his last live performance, became one of the 25 guitar players “who shook up the world,” according to Guitar Player magazine, the kind of honor usually accorded to rock and blues guitarists.

“Jim is father of modern jazz guitar to me,” said Pat Metheny, who knows a thing or two about jazz guitar, on the liner notes from a 1999 collaboration with Hall. “He’s the guy who invented a conception that has allowed guitar to function in a lot of musical situations that just weren’t thought of as a possibility prior to his emergence as a player. He reinvented what the guitar could be as a jazz instrument … Jim transcends the instrument … the meaning behind the notes is what speaks to people.”

It’s ironic that Hall influenced Metheny, and so many other jazz guitarists, when he didn’t always aspire to be one, according to an interview on his website.

“I had to try being a guitarist or else it would trouble me for the rest of my life,” he said.

The above link is to a 1973 recording Hall made with fellow guitarist Attila Zoller, bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Daniel Humair (wait for the credits).

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