December 11, 2013

Jazz guitar master Jim Hall dies at 83

He transformed the role of the guitar in jazz with his understated melodic and minimalist approach.

By Charles J. Gans
The Associated Press

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Guitarist Jim Hall plays with Geoffrey Keezer on piano during the 50th annual Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, Calif., in this Sept. 21, 2007, photo.

The Associated Press

His first album as a leader was the 1957 session “Jazz Guitar” for Pacific Jazz. He later moved to New York where he performed as a sideman with Evans, Fitzgerald, Ben Webster, Lee Konitz and Art Farmer, among others. He co-led a quartet with trumpeter Art Farmer and also formed his own trio with pianist Tommy Flanagan and bassist Carter.

Hall began recording extensively as a leader starting in the 1970s in an assortment of duos, trios and small combos for such labels as Milestone, Concord, Music Masters and Telarc. Earlier this year, he released several CDs of live recordings from his combo’s sessions at New York’s Birdland jazz club on ArtistShare, a platform that allows fans to finance recordings.

His daughter and manager, Devra Hall Levy, said her father’s prowess as a jazz guitarist overshadowed his skills as an arranger and composer, reflected on such albums in the mid-1990s as “Textures” and “By Arrangement.”

“Those albums opened my eyes to a whole other dimension of his musical gifts,” Levy said in a telephone interview. “Jim would like to be most known as a forward-seeker. He was always looking to push musical boundaries and never wanting to repeat something that he had done before. That made him quite a risk-taker.”

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.

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