Jim Hall is said to be a calm and unruffled musician identified for his ingenuity and lyricism. Incidentally, Jim Hall plays both electric and acoustic guitar and is considered as one of the greatest stylist of instrument ever.

Born as James Stanley Hall on December 4, 1930 in Buffalo in New York, Jim Hill accomplished fame in the 1950s with the Chico Hamilton Quintet. Hall has persisted as a very important power in jazz, not only because he plays with such articulacy, but also because he endeavors to progress melodiously. Over the years, Hall has become gradually more probing and exploratory, never reconciling into any specific method over another.

Jim Hall
Jim Hall

Jim Hall’s parents had separated when he was a child and his mother, with the help of her brothers, brought up the children. Jim’s maternal family was deep rooted in music with his mother playing the piano, maternal uncle Ed, a self-taught guitarist and singer, while his grandfather played the fiddle. So it was natural that young Jim would develop an interest in music. And when his mother noticed this, she bought him a guitar when Jim was barely nine. And significantly enough, a distinctive influence Ed can be felt in Jim’s early day music.

Initially, Jim took lesson at a local music store for a year. However, he was fortunate enough to soon find a fine teacher called Jack Duperow who introduced Jim to jazz guitar. When Jim was just 13 years old, he became a professional guitarist playing for a band led by Angelo Vienna, a clarinetist who introduced the boy to Charlie Christian’s music. Simultaneously, Jim took lessons in guitar from Fred Sharp, who made him familiar with Django Reinhardt’s records. This way, young Jim widened his music listening and absorbing the music of these masters.

Having graduated from high school, Jim Hall decided to learn classical music with a view to enhance his talents and subsequently became a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1955, he secured a degree in music theory from the institute presenting a thesis on string quartet. Next, he joined the master’s degree course, but quit midway and moved to Los Angeles. Here, Jim worked in a music store and took lessons in classical guitar from Vicente Gomez. Soon, Hall changed job and became an original member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet, which comprised Hamilton (drums), Hall (electric guitar), Buddy Collette (flute, alto and tenor saxophone and clarinet) Fred Katz (cello) and Carson Smith (bass).

Jim Hall recorded his first album in 1957 as a leader titled Jazz Guitar for the Pacific Jazz label. Hall quit Hamilton's quintet and became a member of saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre's trio. Hall's relation with the Giuffre Three was broken up following a tour across South America with singer Ella Fitzgerald. Jimmy took a brief break from music in 1965 and for over three years worked a TV show for Merv Griffin. This was a lean period for Hall and he recovered soon to record several hit albums. Hall once again became adventure in 1995 with Dialogues, which featured progressive musicians like trumpeter Tom Harrell, Goldstein, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, and guitarists Bill Frisell and Mike Stern.

Besides recording albums and live performances, Jim Hall also published a number of books and videos providing instructions on how to play the guitar. In 1988, Bruce Bicker produced and directed documentary film was shot on the artist – ‘Jim Hall: A Life in Progress’, which features a number of prominent musicians.

During his long and fruitful musical career, Hall has been successful in motivating many of the contemporary artists. Prominent among them are guitarists Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny. What is significant about Jim Hall is that the artist continues to team up with varied artists and to discover new environs in the jazz world. Besides being a renowned and world favorite guitarist, Jim Hall acquired escalating applause in the late 1990s for his talents as a composer and arranger par excellence. And, in 1997, Jim secured his first formal recognition – the New York Jazz Critics Circle Award – for the symphony created by him for Best Jazz Composer/Arranger.

  • 1957 - Street Swingers - with Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Raney
  • 1960 - Good Friday Blues - with the Modest Jazz Trio
  • 1962 - Undercurrent - with Bill Evans
  • 1966 - Intermodulation - with Bill Evans
  • 1971 -...Where Would I Be?
  • 1972 - Alone Together - with Ron Carter
  • 1975 - Concierto
  • 1975 - Jim Hall Live!
  • 1976 - Jim Hall Live in Tokyo
  • 1978 - Jim Hall and Red Mitchell - duo recorded live at Sweet Basil
  • 1981 - Circles
  • 1986 - Power of Three - with Michel Petrucciani and Wayne Shorter
  • 1988 - These Rooms
  • 1989 - All Across the City
  • 1990 - Live at Town Hall, Vol. 1
  • 1990 - Live at Town Hall, Vol. 2
  • 1991 - Subsequently
  • 1993 - Youkali
  • 1993 - Alone Together
  • 1993 - Dedications & Inspirations
  • 1995 - Dialogues
  • 1995 - Live at the Village West - with Ron Carter
  • 1996 - Textures
  • 1998 - By Arrangement
  • 1999 - Jim Hall & Pat Metheny
  • 2000 - Grand Slam: Live at the Regatta Bar - with Joe Lovano
  • 2001 - Jim Hall & Basses