Jim Hall, the legendary guitar virtuoso who became one of the most important jazz musicians of our time over the course of his long career, died last night at his home in New York City. He was 83 years old.
Born in Buffalo and raised in Cleveland, Hall grew up in a musical household where his mother played piano and his uncle played guitar. Hall began playing guitar himself at age ten, and he became a professional by the time he reached his teens. He attended the Cleveland School of Music in 1955 only to leave for Los Angeles a year later; there, he studied classical guitar with Vicente Gomez. It was in L.A. where Hall’s career really began to take off.
Over the course of his 50+ years as a musician, Hall performed with just about every big name in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Art Farmer, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, and Ornette Coleman. His style of guitar playing, a hybrid of jazz guitar and classical guitar that emphasized Hall’s skill without relying on overt showmanship, has influenced dozens of guitarists since, including his former student Bill Frisell.
Elmore contributor Victor Verney had the chance to talk to Hall in the May/June issue of the magazine. You can find out more here.
Hall is survived by Jane, his wife of 48 years, and his daughter.