JIM HALL DIDN'T LOOK like a jazz revolutionary or a guitar hero, but he was undoubtedly both. Hall, who passed away on December 10 at the age of 83, played a style of interpretative jazz guitar on a number of landmark jazz albums between the mid ’50s and the early 1960s – Chico Hamilton Quintet, The Jimmy Giuffre 3, Sonny Rollins' The Bridge, Bill Evans' Interplay to name the bare minimum - albums that quietly, melodically and gently transformed the art of jazz.
Along with friends and fellow band members such as Hamilton and Giuffre, Hall brought a chamber music intimacy and warmth to the West Coast jazz of the era, whilst also working with East Coast musicians such as Rollins, allowing them a more expansive, piano-less space in which to explore and a voice with which to respond.
Watch him here, playing in a UK TV studio in 1964, gently leading bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Pete La Rocca (three quarters of the Art Farmer Quartet) down different shining paths and lazy avenues of the ’30s standard I'm Getting Sentimental Over You. Hall has a wary, crouched demeanour and a look on his face that suggests he's repeatedly discovering new routes to take.
Then find out more about this quiet and gentle genius in this hour-long 1999 documentary.