Archive for Jim Hall

Jazz Samba – Bill Evans & Jim Hall

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on September 21, 2016 by telescoper

A couple of weeks ago I posted an item about a classic recording of On Green Dolphin Street featuring the great pianist Bill Evans. At the weekend I was listening to some CDs from my collection and thought I’d post a track from one of them, an album called Intermodulation (recorded in 1966) which features Bill Evans in collaboration with the guitarist Jim Hall. One of the notable things about Bill Evans’s On Green Dolphin Street was the “two-handedness” of his playing which gives his improvisations a very rich harmonic structure. In this recording, however, apart from the introduction and ending he uses practically only his right hand. The reason for this change in style is simple: he wanted to leave space for Jim Hall’s guitar chords to be heard. Anyway, it’s a lovely piece with a real sense of dance to it, and in which the pairing of these two great musicians is heard to great combined effect. Enjoy!


The Jazz Legends we lost in 2013

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , , , , on December 29, 2013 by telescoper

I’ve become rather slow to find out about things since I gave up buying  newspapers regularly. That’s why I only found out yesterday that Jazz musician Yusef Lateef had passed away on 23rd December, at the age of 93. He had a good innings, but it’s still sad to lose someone who was there at the birth of the modern era of jazz; Lateef played with Dizzy Gillespie’s band way back in the 1940s before going on to carve out his own career as a bandleader and a pioneering figure in the development of world music.

The death of Yusef Lateef got me thinking about all the other great jazz  musicians who also passed away in 2013 to whom I haven’t yet found time to pay tribute. The list I’ve selected is sadly rather long, and I could have included more. I’ve added links to examples of their playing:

  • Cedar Walton (August 19, aged 79).  Terrific piano player in the hard bop tradition, who came to prominence with Art Blakey’s band of the 1960s as pianist and arranger. Listen to him clearly enjoying himself playing Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll here.
  • Chico Hamilton (November 25, aged 92). Drummer and bandleader who, among many other things, sought to merge jazz with classical forms (e.g. by bring a flute and cello into his band). Check out Blue Sands Live , recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958.
  • Jim Hall (December 10, aged 83). Brilliant jazz guitarist, also played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958, with Jimmy Giuffre and Bob Brookmeyer on The Train and the River.
  • Donald Byrd (February 4, aged 80). Began his career as a bebop trumpeter, but later moved towards a more popular jazz funk/rhythm & blues/fusion style. Listen to him on his famous Blue Note recording of Cristo Redentor.
  • Marian McPartland (August 20, aged 95). British born pianist who presented a long-running radio series on piano jazz on US Radio. Here she is playing a duet with Dave Brubeck. You might just recognize the tune!
  • Stan Tracey (December 6, aged 86). Uniquely gifted British pianist with an instantly recognizable style.  House pianist at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London for many years, in which role he earned the respect and admiration of the very best musicians in the world.The one musician on this list that I’ve seen live. I’ve seen him several times, in fact, and could never take my eyes off his hands:

People such as these are irreplaceable, of course, but at least they will live on in our hearts through their music. I hope they all knew how much we loved them.

My Funny Valentines

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by telescoper

I’m not really into all this St Valentine’s Day nonsense (meaning: “I never get any cards”), but at least it provides me with an excuse to post three versions of the great Rogers & Hart ballad  My Funny Valentine.

The first is by the great Miles Davis Quintet featuring Miles Davis on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter bass and Tony Williams on drums. This was recorded live in Milan on October 11th 1964. There’s a slight distortion in the sound in the form of a pre-echo, which is a bit eery, but I still think it’s a marvellous performance.

And if Miles Davis isn’t your cup of tea, here is something completely different. It’s by Julie London, but very late in her career in 1981 when she was 55. Her voice was much smoother in her heyday in the 1960s, but I love the smokey sound of this very characterful rendition. By ear I’d say the bass player on this is Ray Brown and the guitar is Barney Kessel, both of whom (like Julie London herself) are no longer with us.

Last one up is a miracle of joint improvisation between the great Bill Evans on piano and Jim Hall on guitar, the sort of music that mere mortals can only dream of…