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Bill Frisell and Jim Hall: Free Stylists

Jim Hall and Bill Frisell
Studio floor
Jim Hall at Sear Sound, New York; September 9, 2008
Jim Hall (left) and Bill Frisell track duets at Tony Scherr's home studio

At ArtistShare.com, the Web site for the fan-funded record “label” started by musician Brian Camelio in 2000, there are posted video clips of guitarists Jim Hall and Bill Frisell in duet. In one clip, Hall, then 76 and Frisell’s senior by more than 20 years, tells a story about a robbery that occurred at the Village Vanguard while he was playing; Frisell and Camelio, the latter of whom can be heard but not seen, crack up in disbelief.

The conversation is winsome and intimate, and for fans of jazz guitar, it’s pretty priceless stuff. Another clip worth repeat viewings is titled “Jim and Bill play the blues.” Given the format and the instrument, it has potential for myriad clichés, all of which the pair dodges: Harmonically it seems more Jimmy Giuffre than Jimmy Reed, and the interplay is so mingled that roles of lead and accompaniment are difficult to discern. Paying even closer attention to the footage yields a certain curiosity: Where are they?

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