Jim Hall – Dedications and Inspirations (1994)

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Jim Hall displays an extraordinary warmth here, expanding upon his terrific 1984 duo collaboration with bassist Ron Carter on Concord, “Live at the Village West.”

This is where Hall was perhaps always headed, even while he established himself as an ace sideman in associations with legends like Ella Fitzgerald (on the famous “Ella in Berlin” concert for Verve), then downsized into inspired trio work in the 1970s and ’80s. Yet, this was the first time, outside of one tune on the 1988 Denon release “These Roots,” that Hall made an album alone.

The record, interestingly enough, leads off with a dedication to cartoonist Gary Larson (of “Far Side” fame), who did the artwork for a then-current group effort on the MusicMasters label. Other “dedications” include Coleman Hawkins, “my friends in Argentina,” Duke Ellington, Charlie Christian and Sonny Rollins.

The “inspirations,” meanwhile, are more far afield — sampling the feel of a great painter like Matisse, then paying tribute to the underappreciated big-band leader Jimmy Lunceford.

Throughout, Hall uses his own unique harmonic sensibilities to charm and delight. Standing in the center of the spotlight, Hall confidently asserts himself — traversing the down-home grit of “Bluesography,” which is dedicated in part to Shreveport roots legend Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, then moving with ease into impressionistic playing on “Monet.”

In so doing, “Dedications and Inspirations,” even if it was a long time in coming, nevertheless fully confirms the high praise of former bandmate Rollins, who once called Hall “the greatest guitarist in jazz.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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