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Guitarist Jim Hall and pianist Geoffrey Keezer continue their association, which began in the nineties, with Free Association, a record that testifies to the intuitive interplay that they have developed over time. The music is at once stimulating and tantalizing as the two weave webs of intricate design. As always, Hall speaks an elegant language that's ornate without being overbearing, his notes singing his craftsmanship. Keezer also has that lyrical edge and an intuition that keeps his explorations focused and tantalizing.
Strings take first bow as Keezer plucks their resonance on "End the Beguine, the motifs floating airily and inveigling their way between the juicy notes Hall brings to the fore. Then the pianist moves over to the keys, delivering a rush of notes that sparkle and strong chords that cast emphasis, the shift and mould of the two players giving focus and shape to their path. Empathy and intuition are the elements that get into "Free Association. The mood is subdued, the colours cool, the texture soft, wrapping the listener comfortably in its fold. There is magnetism even in delicacy.
Hall and Keezer lead "A Merry Chase through the blues with upbeat energy. Hall slips into corners, probes, and comes up with little nuggets of invention. Keezer takes the melody on a romp, the blues glistening and rippling. And when they end it all with earthy dialogue, they leave an indelible impact. The innate sense of understanding between Hall and Keezer quite simply touches the soul.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.