Jazz legend Jim Hall dies at age 83
It’s been a few weeks since Jim’s death and I was shocked when I heard about this. I wanted to write about it sooner but honestly was looking for just the right thing to say. But I think I do now.
He was a friend to my father and a peer. They drifted apart from the 60s until the 90s when they played a concert at Bellarmine College together. But they had been very close despite being in touch only occasionally,. They respected each other immensely and it wasn’t lip service to a colleague, they could go in to great detail about what made the other a great artist. Jim Hall Live was just a head turner for Dad. He thought it was “stunning”. I have his original copy of it. Their approaches were very different but they were both after the same thing, subtlety and beauty. Recently I was marveling at the subtlety of the tracks on that album. For a bit I became obsessed with his interpretation of “Scrapple from the Apple”. I actually didn’t quite know the tune so I learned it by ear from Jim’s interpretation. His solo on it displays the full blossomed alternate conception that makes him one of the fathers of modern jazz guitar besides Dad. It takes the V7-I harmony of the opening A section and defines it for himself, not according to the written rules of “C7 now F now”. He does that by being flexible in rhythm and harmonic color but firm in his motivic clarity. He is a composer plain and simple. And if you think about it Dad is exactly the same, but manifested differently. They were both informed by the composer Parker’s model (Jim quotes Parker’s solo in the opening) but they were both originals and trying to perfect something completely different. I have an unfinished interview with Jim I did in 1999 about Dad and other things that I will posting soon. Rest in Peace, guys you changed music for all of us and we love you for it.