Downbeat Critics’ Choice
I have been told many times (and as I get older it seems to be true) that people do become more conservative with age. Apparently no one has told Jim Hall, and, if they have, he’s completely ignored them. At 72, you’d expect Hall to be playing Dixieland or straddling happily along the neo-bop fence with Wynton and his crew. However, these greener pastures are not to be regurgitated upon by Hall. This retrospective of the nine recordings the guitarist has made for Telarc since ’94 shows that the man likes to, instead, forage the nether regions of the avant-garde.
Hall’s realm is quiet, subtle and eminently intriguing. It’s a calm space somewhere between jazz and classical. The hybrid will captivate you as he pairs himself with strings or horns or even the New York Voices. Greg Osby, George Mraz, Mike Stern and Tom Harrell also appear on this compilation to add to the depth that lies herein.
Telarc has done a fine job of piecing together this “Best of.” It is a fine representation of an artist who refuses to rest on his laurels. It’s a complex tapestry of a fine, melodic vision that implores, pulls you in and very oftentimes swings. There is nothing pat or cliché about Hall. Something any jazz fan can appreciate who can no longer stand wading in the stagnant marshes of much of today’s jazzland.