It's an accepted fact that Jim Hall is considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of jazz. In fact, December 4, 2005 is his 75th birthday and he is celebrating at the Village Vanguard that week. Two of Hall's most famous recordings are Undercurrent and Intermodulation, duets with pianist Bill Evans. Indeed, that is what links these 3 CDs: guitar-piano duets.
Jim Hall/Geoff Keezer
On Free Association Jim Hall intermodulates with Geoffrey Keezer, starting off with the gutsy yet joyous Hall composition "End the Beguine. With a title like that, you might think the piece is going to be a tart answer to Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine but this has its own quality of rhythm and mystery. "Furnished Flats, a twelve-bar blues in Db has Hall quoting Charlie Christian's "Seven Come Eleven for a second and Keezer turns in a burning solo. "October Song is Hall solo in such an intimate performance you might feel like you are eavesdropping.
Jim Hall/Enrico Pieranunzi
Duologues is bookended by "Duologue 1 and "Duologue 3. All three "Duologues are attributed to Hall and Enrico Pieranunuzi as composers though they sound freely improvised. It's great to hear them work without the structure of a song form to improvise over, yet it's on the tracks with a more defined structure that these two really shine.
For instance, "The Point at Issue (by Pieranunzi) features some playful jousting; Hall and he take turns slinging concentrated melodic jewels at one other. The playing is simultaneously thoughtful and gregarious. You can hear Pieranunzi's deep chops (he plays a walking bass in his left hand at times while playing blistering right-hand leads that would impress the greatest of pianists) as well as his deep thinking. Jane Hall's "Something Tells Me is one of the outstanding tracksa beautiful ballad and a touching performance.
Ran Blake/David Fabris
Pianist Ran Blake may not have as big a name as Hall but he is a great pianist who has been making striking music for maybe as long. Indian Winter is a collaboration between Mr. Blake and guitarist David Fabris (a former student and longtime collaborator of Blake's). The first thing that hits you is the CD's listed 23 tracks! The composers represented here are diverse: from Bacharach to Zappa, through Neal Hefti, Alex North, Ornette Coleman and Duke Ellington. "Spiral Staircase establishes the sound and rapport between the two musicians: as impressive as the rapport amongst Hall and his collaborators, yet not every track is an actual duo, as there are some solo piano and solo guitar pieces.
Then on "Streetcar Named Desire Fabris uses a heavily distorted guitar on a theme statement, later in the same piece employing a more typical sound. Fabris' unaccompanied solo guitar, heard on Frank Zappa's "Marqueson's Chicken, moves smoothly from sound to sound and mood to mood with ease that belies great skill. On the levels of texture, originality, arrangements, surprise, skill and most of all, freshness, Indian Winter is a real find.
Tracks and Personnel
Personnel: Jim Hall: guitar: Geoff Keezer: piano.
Tracks: Duologue 1; Careful; From E. To C.; Our Valentines; Duologue 2; The Point at Issue; Something Tells Me; Jimlogue; Duologue 3; Dreamlogue.
Personnel: Jim Hall: guitar: Enrico Pieranunzi: piano.
Tracks: Spiral Staircase; You've Changed; Duality; Streetcar Named Desire; You And I; Merci Bon Dieu; Homage To Alfred Hitchcock; Georgia; When Marlon Meets Bird; Incident At Atocha (Blue Potato); Madrid; Certi Angoli Segreti; Indian Winter; Say A Little Prayer For You; Speak Low; Sadness; Baby Be Mine; Marqueson's Chicken; You've Changed; Mood Indigo; All Or Nothing At All; Hallelujah, I Love Her So; Brazil.
Personnel: Ran Blake: piano; David Fabris: guitar.