Jazz guitarist Jim Hall performs "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" with a trio consisting of Steve Swallow on bass and Pete LaRoca on drums. This tune was Hall's feature on Art Farmer's "Live at the Half-Note" record and this footage was likely filmed at a 1964 appearance of the Farmer quartet.
Jim Hall was born on December 4, 1930 in Buffalo, New York His mother played the piano, his grandfather violin, and his uncle guitar. He began playing the guitar at age ten when his mother gave him one for Christmas. As a teenager in Cleveland, he performed professionally. He also took up the double bass. In 1955, Hall attended the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied piano and bass, in addition to theory. About a year later, Hall moved to Los Angeles, where cool jazz was prominent at the time. He focused on classical guitar, and, from 1955 to 1956, played in Chico Hamilton’s quintet. It was here that he began to gain fame.
In the Jimmy Giuffre Three, Jim developed some of his own personal musical preferences, including “challenging arrangements and interactive improvisation in duos and trios.” From this time on, Hall’s career picked up. He taught at the Lenox School of Jazz in 1959; toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic; and worked with Ben Webster (1959), Bill Evans (1959), Paul Desmond (1959-65), Ella Fitzgerald in Europe (1960), Lee Konitz (1960-61), Sonny Rollins (1961-2, 1964), and Art Farmer (1962-1964). Working with all of these prominent and established artists furthered Jim Hall’s career and aided in producing his own bands and own styles.
By 1960, Hall was living in New York. In 1962, he led a trio with Tommy Flanagan and Ron Carter--with the addition of Red Mitchell in 1965. Furthermore, he landed a gig playing with Bill Berry, Bob Brookmeyer, Benny Powell, Art Davis and Jake Hanna as a house band for “The Merv Griffin Show” on television. Most notably, he arranged and recorded many duos with Bill Evans and Ron Carter, which allowed his complex arrangements and improvisations to shine.
Jim possessed incredible improvisational ability and creativity. He was an arranger as much as an artist, known for developing motives and using blues inflections. These characteristics are showcased in his 1975 album “Jim Hall Live!", with Don Thompson and Terry Clarke. Around this time he also recorded with pianist George Shearing and classical violinist Itzhak Perlman. He further continued creating music with Mitchell and Ron Carter until 1985.
Hall continues to perform today, participating in a project titled The Live Project. Here he shares his music making process through ArtistShare as well as interviews with other musicians about his lasting influence. In 2010, Hall and Joey Baron recorded a duo album, which listeners can get an exclusive view on the recording “coming to life."
*In 2012 at the age of 81, Hall has gigs at the Blue Note in New York City and at a number of jazz festivals in the states as well as in Europe.