Panorama Live at the Village Vanguard
Adventurous, eclectic and original-both in the singular way he improvises but also the scope of his musical activities-Hall is a guitarist who challenges himself at every turn. This time out, he welcomes into his core group (bassist Scott Colley and drummer Terry Clarke) a number of guest musicians, several of whom he had really never played with before. It all takes place live onstage in the context of his own tunes for the most part.
First up is pianist Geoff Keezer, who takes to the title track like a fish to water. Here the concept is one that Hall regularly utilizes: establish a Caribbean vibe and stretch it to its limits with solos that build in intensity. Next comes Art Farmer, who lends his lyrical gifts to the grooving "Little Blues" and effortlessly floats through the changes, setting up Hall, who phrases spaciously and then gets into some quirky punctuations. Altoist Greg Osby becomes acquainted with Hall during "Furnished Flats," whose syncopated head provides a theme that both participants thoroughly exploit. Slide Hampton's guest spots include "Entre Nous," a ballad that includes a gorgeous coda with trombone and guitar only, while Kenny Barron articulately grooves on "Something To Wish For," a beautiful duet that finds Hall laying down Freddie Green-style rhythm behind the piano.
A concept project within the context of a live recording, the idea behind Panorama is as clever as Hall's playing is brilliant.