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Jared Hall: Influences

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Jared Hall: Influences
Jazz music has proliferated through generations traditionally by means of the oral tradition—meaning that knowledge is passed on by mentors, some by personal connection and others by more casual means. In modern times, this tradition lives alongside the jazz school phenomenon, where classrooms and studios incubate talent, while students inescapably still must pay their dues on the bandstand, playing with musicians that are more accomplished and more experienced.

Trumpeter Jared Hall has for years straddled that fine line between those two worlds. As a musician, he has sought the wisdom of his heroes, and learned the fine art of being a bandleader by unabashedly hiring top musicians to tour and record with. In the process, he has assimilated the wisdom of those intelligent hires, and applied them to create his own very personal sound. But he has been the perfect reflection of those experiences as Director of Jazz Studies at Whitworth University in his hometown of Spokane, Washington, returning the favor and pushing the tradition just a wee bit further into the future. But no matter what side of the fence he falls on, or we fall on for that matter, receiving the music as a listener defines the direction an individual takes in learning the music and developing a genuine love for it. On Influences (Origin, 2024), Hall offers compositions written with the personal styles of his trumpet heroes in mind, most of them casual influences collected from recordings and live performances attended. There is no need to roll one's eyes at this point, fearing yet another tribute project to bear. For whatever the inspiration for the music presented on the album, the tunes are sound, the playing first rate and the band a perfect match. It is about an artist recognizing certain traits of his playing inspired by mentors and masters alike.

While Hall pays homage to artists from Woody Shaw and Roy Hargrove to Tom Harrell, it is the third track that has special significance, "Professor B.L.," his homage to virtuoso trumpeter Brian Lynch. Hall was mentored by Lynch as he pursued doctoral studies at The Frost School of Music in Miami. Lynch's ability to balance being an artist along with being an educator was the key area of influence between the two. Lynch's meteoric playing and extraordinary vocabulary would be profound to any student, but Lynch is not the playing comp one would arrive at in evaluating Hall's playing. The actual tune, however, may be the best carrier of the overall talent of this well curated quartet. Pianist Tal Cohen's extraordinary playing is personified in his solo here, riding a tidal force of energy from bassist Michael Glynn and drummer John Bishop. Both in comping and soloing, Cohen plays off of Bishop's powerful arc, reminiscent of the classic interplay between McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones. Bishop, who has produced groundbreaking work in the rubato trio of piano great Hal Galper looms large throughout this recording as a dynamic force.

Perhaps a more applicable Hall comp would be to trumpet legend Shaw. "Song for Shaw," the album's opener, features Hall playing melodically within the harmonic variables offered by the band. His playing matches the twists and turns of the tune, breaking ties with the angular melody composed by the trumpeter. We are introduced to the band on this track, beginning with the virtual wall of sound created by Seattle first- call bassist Glynn, and the thunder of veteran drummer Bishop. Both Glynn and Bishop represent musical ties with Hall's time living in Seattle. The two were constants during Hall's two year residency at the now shuttered Tula's Jazz Club. Miami based pianist Tal Cohen became acquainted with the trumpeter at Frost, and has become a frequent participant in Hall's recording and touring life. Cohen's virtuosity, sensitivity and true sense of beauty is reflected in his playing throughout this recording, and is in itself a reason to spend time with this record.

"Let the Children Dance" is a tune Hall has performed for a number of years now in his live performances. While the tune does not cite a direct "influence," the jumpy rhythm and lilting melody captures the energy and free spirit of children. The composition is very different from the eight other tracks on the album, revealing a playful, high spirited aspect of his playing. The great Wayne Shorter spoke often of never losing the "child within," something that guided his work both as a musician and composer. The tune evokes the intrinsic nature of children to react to music spontaneously, unencumbered by "adult" concerns and constraints.

All trumpeters of Hall's generation of players have been influenced by the late, great Hargrove. He was accessible to so many, while touring and performing, and by stopping in to jam sessions around the world. His sound was special, and very different from Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. "Dear Roy" is a ballad, a format frequented by Hargrove, defining his dedication to melody and emotive playing. Hall's soaring trumpet style is paramount while playing ballads. The purity of his sound, the finer elements of his facility are best expressed in this realm of longer tones and wide dynamic range.

Influences is an excellent follow-up to Hall's last release, Seen on the Scene (Origin, 2021). The trumpeter knows how to make a sound record, eschewing stylistic twists and turns and creating a focus on a particular way of playing within the lexicon of an actual functioning band. It is not a collection of tunes embellished by an impressive array of sidemen. It is a solid effort by a dedicated band that over the course of time in different iterations, has developed a musical identity on the bandstand. There is truth here, unabashed, direct to the listener.

Track Listing

Song for Shaw; Dear Roy; Professor B.L.; One for Wallace; Let the Children Dance; Beyond the Thorns; Harrell; Minority; Dream Steps.

Personnel

Jared Hall
trumpet
Tal Cohen
piano
Michael Glynn
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: Influences | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Origin Records


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