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Master and apprentice. Predecessor and descendant. Originator and influenced.
None of those descriptions of the musical relationship on Jim Hall & Pat Metheny quite sound right. Nor are they accurate.
After all, in his own way, Metheny has been greatly original and influential as well.
Yet, what we hear on Hall and Metheny's duo album is certainly an affinity. Hall, who always seemed to be unobtrusively present at critical moments the last generation's history of jazz, never abandoned his explorative ways. In fact, he extended them, subtly presenting a style of his own that was sympathetic to and yet individual from the numerous musicians he worked with.
Metheny, in spite of his ability to fill a stadium with aural pyrotechnics and his vast musical range, resembles Hall in his chameleon-like ability to assume the colors of the group he's in.
Known for his interest in checking famous musicians off his list for joint recording ventures, Metheny certainly has elevated the opportunity to record with Hall to a level of adventurous give-and-take that is worthy of repeated listening.
With six of the tracks recorded live at the Craftsmen's Guild in Pittsburgh, Jim Hall & Pat Metheny documentsand in its own way thrillswith meditative consideration of each song's possibilities through chorded or contrapuntal accompaniment or through investigative solos.
Interestingly, Hall or Metheny composed most of the tunes, bringing to attention their abilities as composers as well as performers. One can hardly ignore the similarity of their sensibilities. Their compositions assume a deceptive melodic simplicity deepened in profundity by unconventional intervals or modulations that proceed unhurriedly as the sound washes over the listener.
With single musical tributes to bassist Steve Swallow and recently deceased fellow guitarist Attila Zoller, Hall and Metheny for the most part delve into each other's music or else involve themselves in true spur-of- the-moment improvisations known, appropriately enough, as "Improvisation No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5."
For the benefit of the close listener who really wants to compare their sounds, Hall may be heard in the left channel while Metheny may be heard on the right. While this helps one to imagine the intuitiveness of the performance, it would have been a real treat to watch Hall and Metheny perform, nodding to each other as they trade melody and accompaniment or as they play off the other's thoughts during improvisation.
The concepts of space and movement prove clearly on Jim Hall & Pat Metheny that implication can inspire the imagination as actively as overt statements. Metheny's understanding of the value of minimal note placement sometimes isn't appreciated as much as his ability to excite through amplification. But mutual respect and understatement activate this recording of two master guitarists of successive generations. It's fortunate that such a pairing took place, and even more significantly, that it was documented in all of its delicacy and power.
Track Listing: Lookin' Up, All The Things You Are, The Birds And The Bees, Improvisation No. 1, Falling
Grace, Ballad Z, Summertime, Farmer's Trust, Cold Spring, Improvisation No. 2, Into The
Dream, Don't Forget, Improvisation No. 3, Waiting To Dance, Improvisation No. 4,
Improvisation No. 5, All Across The City
Personnel: Jim Hall, electric guitar; Pat Metheny, electric guitar, acoustic guitars, fretless classical guitar, 42-string guitar