Inspired showcases four of the world's most accomplished jazz guitarists honoring the legacy of a fifth: the late maestro Jim Hall, an exemplar to all and mentor to many. The quartet consists of American luminaries Peter Bernstein and John Abercrombie, Norway's Lage Lund and Serbian-born Rale Micic (Rah-lay Mee-cheech). Four unique personas with one inflexible purpose: to enhance and perpetuate the vision of a friend, comrade and archetype.
The album consists for the most part of songs performed by one or two of the principals, the lone exception being Hall's unhurried "All Across the City," on which all members of the group are present. Hall also composed the melodious "Dream Steps" (rendered by Micic and Lund) and wistful "Bon Ami" (Bernstein, Lund). The rest of the songs were gleaned from the Great American Songbook, on which Hall leaned heavily for inspiration. Micic is showcased on "Alone Together," Bernstein on "My Ideal," Lund on "Body and Soul," Abercrombie on the enchanting finale, the Gershwin brothers' "Embraceable You." Completing the seductive program are "My Funny Valentine" (Abercrombie, Micic), "I'm Getting Sentimental" (Lund, Abercrombie), "I Should Care" (Bernstein, Micic) and "I Hear a Rhapsody" (Bernstein, Abercrombie).
Even though the various selections evince a nonchalant and almost effortless vibe, the emotion and interplay are unflagging, and it's clear that the guitar (single or in tandem) can't be played with much more warmth or fluency than this. While on duo tracks (and "All Across the City," by far the longest track at 9:30) the solo order isn't given, those who are conversant with guitar style and technique (in other words, those to whom the album is aimed) should have scant trouble sorting things out. Not that it really matters, as each of these gentlemen is an acknowledged master of the instrument, and each one is a pleasure to hear, as is this tasteful and Inspired homage to their departed colleague, the peerless Jim Hall.
Dream Steps; Alone Together; Bon Ami; My Funny Valentine; I’m Getting Sentimental Over You; All Across the City; My Ideal; I Should Care; Body and Soul; I Hear a Rhapsody; Embraceable You.
Rale Micic: guitar; John Abercrombie: guitar; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Lage Lund: guitar.