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Interviews

A Fireside Chat with Jim Hall

By Published: February 21, 2004

AAJ: A handful of years ago, you had a week at the Bakery and prior to the show, there was a showing of 'Jim Hall: A Life in Progress,' a fascinating film.

JH: My wife and the, oh, boy, before we get off the phone I will think of the guy. I can't think of the guy's name. That's embarrassing. He made the Thelonious Monk film, 'Straight No Chaser' and he's done a bunch of really good films.

AAJ: Bruce Ricker.

JH: Bruce, thank you, my name department was out to lunch. But yeah, Bruce Ricker and it was just going to be a promotional short film and Telarc could use it for publicity for this CD called By Arrangement. At first, I didn't like the idea. I didn't want cameramen tromping around the studio while we're trying to record, but then Bruce and actually, my wife Jane was really involved in this too. It turned into Gone with the Wind. The first showing of it was in Boston at the Museum of Fine Art and then we played a concert afterwards with Scott Colley and Terry Clarke and Jane made sure I had a seat at the end of the isle in case I wanted to leave because it is very difficult watching one's self, but if I could separate myself from it emotionally, I really enjoy it. Art Farmer is on there, John Lewis, all kinds of people.

AAJ: Down Beat Critics' Choice, a befitting title, are the accolades and the acclaim any comfort?

JH: (Laughing) It is interesting, Fred. I don't really think of myself in those terms. For instance, as we speak, I am working tonight at the Village Vanguard. My guitar is sitting here frowning at me like big deal (laughing). It is a daily process. I feel very privileged. I think that is the main word that I come up with all the time. I feel privileged to be a musician. There is all these great rewards from it such as traveling. For instance, just a year ago, Greg Osby, Terry Clarke, and Steve LaSpina playing bass, that is the quartet that's at the Vanguard. We went to Europe for a little over three weeks and it was right after the atrocity with the World Trade Center. We got so much empathy from all over the world, but in Europe, each night we would dedicate something to peace at the end of the concert. We'd do a free improvisation and so mostly, it just feels like a privilege. But it is literally, a day-to-day process, just one note at a time.

AAJ: Is it easier?

JH: I think I feel more of a focus now, a direction. As you say that, I am looking at this score paper. I am trying to finish a piece for guitar and orchestra. It's fun. I wouldn't say it is easy. It continues to be fun. I try to allow myself to grow everyday, the same as I would if I were a painter or a writer of words. In some ways, it is becoming easier, just because I know that it will probably be all right because I do have a history of getting assignments finished. They turn out pretty well. I know that in performing, one has good nights and not so good nights and times when things click and the players are playing well together and then sometimes not, just like if you were an athlete, so in that sense, I've been able to tolerate that and I don't feel like it's been a disaster, so that is easier.



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