Jazz guitar great Jim Hall dies at 83

Jazz guitarist Jim Hall performs at the Newport Jazz Festival 2013.
Jazz guitarist Jim Hall performs at the Newport Jazz Festival 2013.
(Douglas Mason / Getty Images)
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Guitarist Jim Hall, an understated yet profoundly influential presence on jazz guitar, died in his sleep Tuesday morning at his New York City home. He was 83.

Hall, whose career began in the ‘50s as part of the West Coast jazz scene with Jimmy Giuffre and Chico Hamilton, recorded with wealth of jazz royalty over his career, including Ben Webster, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins, who worked with Hall on his landmark 1962 album “The Bridge” as well as his celebrated 2011 live release, “Road Shows Vol 2.”

The guitarist led his own trio since the ‘60s, and continued to maintain a busy recording and touring schedule. He appeared at this year’s Newport Jazz Festival (joined by fellow guitarist Julian Lage) and was reportedly planning a duo tour of Japan with his frequent collaborator Ron Carter for January 2014.


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Among his memorable recent recordings include 2008’s “Hemispheres,” a lush collaboration with Bill Frisell, and the 2010 album “Conversations,” recorded with drummer Joey Baron.

Avant garde-leaning guitarist Nels Cline, writing in JazzTimes in 2011, described Hall as “a paragon of taste, tone, creativity and inventiveness. These qualities have kept Hall’s music pushing forward: never stale, often surprising.”

Tributes and remembrances have been flowing through Twitter much of the day. Saxophonist Charles Lloyd described Hall’s death as “A personal loss of a kindred spirit whose sensitivity and humor buoyed my spirit,” and local guitarist Anthony Wilson wrote, “You were all inspiration & elegance. A true master.”

There are a wealth of recordings available that act as prime examples of Hall’s mastery, but below you can hear his performance with Rollins on “Without a Song” from “The Bridge.”

A full obituary will appear at



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Twitter: @chrisbarton