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November 1998

Jim Hall
By Arrangement
Telarc

Guitarist Jim Hall, who has quietly revolutionized jazz guitar playing since the '50s, continues with his remarkable run of '90s projects on Telarc. Last year, his striking album Textures proved the viability of the grafting of classical and jazz notions-a post-Third Stream effect that actually works-while also putting forth his own intriguing imprint as a composer. By Arrangement goes in a different, but not unrelated direction and reveals other aspects of his musical touch, as an arranger who brings new life to standards we thought we knew.

We get a telling taste of arrangement aesthetic to come with John Lewis' classic "Django," set to the enigmatic plink of pizzicato strings and a shuffling New Orleans march feel from drummer Terry Clarke-finally yielding to swing-in time for compadre (and protégé) Pat Metheny's fluid, wonderful solo on classical guitar. Hall's own solo, and general guitar voice, is slower, probing in its motivic direction, driven by a restless intelligence which makes him a guitar hero of the first order. Like Metheny, Tom Harrell is an empathetic foil, showing up on with flugelhorn on "Ruby My Dear" and Hall's own bittersweet waltz, "Art Song." Joe Lovano shows up on clarinet and soprano sax on "Goodbye" and alto saxist Greg Osby adds tart melancholy to Russ Freeman's "The Wind," underscored by the vocal pads of the New York Voices. Along the way, we also hear passages of brass and strings, used in unorthodox ways. It's Hall's way. He is, by now, a nimble and young-minded veteran whose every move is worth monitoring.

Originally published in November 1998
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