Guitarist Jim Hall (December 4, 1930 – December 10, 2013) would have been 85 years old today. Building on what he absorbed from Charlie Christian, Hall came to prominence in Chico Hamilton’s and Jimmy Giuffre’s groups in the mid-1950s. He went on to collaborate with Ben Webster, Bill Evans, Paul Desmond, Sonny Rollins, Art Farmer, Lee Konitz and Bob Brookmeyer, among others. His versatility and his openness to a wide range of music allowed him to be as effective in third stream music as in the mainstream.
Of his own albums as a leader, Concierto has become a classic since it was issued in 1975. The title piece was drawn from Joaquin Rodriogo’s Concierto de Aranjuez already something of a jazz standard because of Gil Evans’ arrangement for Miles Davis in their Sketches of Spain album. For Hall’s CTI version, arranger Don Sebesky sketched out parts for Hall, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, trumpeter Chet Baker, pianist Roland Hanna, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Steve Gadd.
Of Hall’s avoidance of clutter in his playing, John Wilson wrote in a New York Times review in 1991, that he “carefully [chose] a few notes instead, one after another, and placed them with the care of someone setting an elegant table.”
Hall’s dedication to the creative use of silence in music led him to tell an overactive student who was showing off his technique during a guitar lesson,
Don’t just do something. Sit there.