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All About Jazz Reader Q&A: Jim Hall

By Published: March 16, 2009

From: Lou Fiorillo
What educational resources (books, videos) would you recommend for advanced jazz guitar studies?

JH: George Van Eps has some great books filled with incredible detailed information. Mick Goodrich has one that I particularly love. Also, I have a book Exploring Jazz Guitar (with a great Gary Larson cover) and a video both of which you can get through Hal Leonard Publications.

From: Lin Sprague
a) I really enjoy your accompaniment behind your wife Jane on the Commitment album. Do you have any advice for playing behind a vocalist in a duo setting like that?

I haven't had much experience in guitar vocalist situations and Jane (my wife) and I are both pleased that you mentioned "When I Fall in Love" from Commitment. However, as in any situation involving two people (musical or otherwise) it probably should involve listening and reacting appropriately - sometimes waiting, sometimes leading the way - and a lot of patient empathy.

b) Are there any plans to re-release the long out-of-print Jim Hall Live album (formerly on the Horizon label)? I consider it one of the best jazz albums ever, and my vinyl copy is wearing out!

JH: I'm glad you like the record (I do too!) and I refer you to question #8.

From: Tom Storer
I saw your quartet with Joe Lovano in concert and loved it. Any plans for a CD with that particular group?

JH: The group with Joe Lovano is called Grand Slam and we're planning more work plus a CD for next year.

From: Boerge Soleng
Some of today's most important players like Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Bill Frisell site you as one of their most important influences. Do you hear something of yourself when listening to these players, and do their playing influence you in any way?

JH: I see music in general as a sort of circular family; a situation where we all continue to grow by listening to one another. It's difficult for me to hear myself in other's playing (maybe because what I've done seems too obvious to me), but I am influenced and inspired by Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Pete Bernstein, saxophonist Greg Osby, and all the other "youngsters."

From: Willie K. Yee, M.D
I saw that you played (rather awesomely, I have heard) at Tal Farlow's memorial. Could you say a few words about Tal's musical conception?

JH: Tal Farlow, besides being a spectacular person, had an amazing advanced sense of harmony, which to me, was equal to his technical facility. Envious guitarists often said things like "of course Tal plays great chords, he has huge hands". To me this is nonsense; I know a number of big-handed people who can't play one interesting chord. Tal's music came from his essence, which was unique and marvelous. There's really no other way to describe it.

By Arrangement From: Franck Wilmart (France)
Dear Mr. Hall, you had recently recorded a new album (and played 2 concerts) with Pat Metheny. Could you describe for us this coming record? Thanks for all the great music you give to us.

JH: The duet record with Pat Metheny is still being put together, but I know it'll have quite a bit of variety on it. Some of Pat's tunes, some of mine. A piece by Atilla Zoller, and some "free" pieces, recorded both in studio and in concert. It also has Pat playing beautifully on every kind of guitar imaginable. I think you'll like it.

Glenn Astarita
Would be interested to see your comments on the state of jazz today.

JH: Jazz music seems to be in great shape (even though "jazz" is a term I'm not particularly conformable with). Jazz is an art form which is alive and growing, changing and which will always attract bright musical people—musicians and audiences, young and old. Most of the best of what we hear now (with the exception of classical music) has more to do with sociology than with music - it's incredibly primitive musically—and as intelligent humans, we need more than that.

From: Reese Erlich
Your version of Concierto de Aranguez is one of my favorites. The composer of that wonderful piece reportedly didn't like Miles Davis' version that appeared in Sketches of Spain. Have you ever heard anything from him about your version?

JH: Joaquin Rodrigo is a man I admire immensely. Both for his melodic sense and for his orchestration; guitar and orchestra require careful balancing and pieces. He is brilliant. I've never heard a word from him concerning my rather frivolous flirtations with his music - one initiated by Don Sebesky, the other by Dave Matthews - and can only hope that he is blessed with patience and a sense of humor to match his musicianship!

From: Drew A.G. Engman
Hi Jim, Any tips for us who have limited practice time? I used to be able to practice 2-4 hours a day. For the last 10 years, now that I'm no longer playing for a living, workin' the day job, keeping the family happy, etc, I only get 2 or 3 nights a week to jam for an hour or so. I just turned 40 and my chops are having a mid-life crisis!

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