The National Endowment for the Arts Statement on the Death of Jim Hall

JIM HALL_smaller.jpg

Headshot of Jim Hall

Image taken in January 2004 by Tom Pich.

It is with great sadness that the National Endowment for the Arts acknowledges the passing of 2004 NEA Jazz Master Jim Hall, whose prowess playing jazz guitar puts him in the company of Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, and Django Reinhardt.

Jim Hall's technique has been called subtle, his sound mellow, and his compositions understated; yet his recording and playing history is anything but modest. He recorded with artists ranging from Bill Evans to Itzhak Perlman and performed alongside most of the jazz greats of the 20th century. He was the first of the modern jazz guitarists to receive an NEA Jazz Masters award.

Hall was an original member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet in 1955 and continued to hone his craft on Ella Fitzgerald's South American tour in 1960, later joining Sonny Rollins' quartet.

Hall co-led a quartet with Art Farmer, recorded with saxophonist Paul Desmond, and performed as a session musician on numerous recordings. His extensive ensemble experience produced a control of rhythm and harmony so that Hall's playing, while grounded in scholarly technique and science, sounded both rich and free.

Hall eventually formed his own trio in 1965 and produced many original pieces for various jazz orchestral ensembles. His influence on jazz guitarists, including such disparate ones as Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny, is immense. In addition to numerous Grammy nominations, Hall was awarded the New York Jazz Critics Circle Award for Best Jazz Composer/Arranger.


NEA Public Affairs