The magic that occurs when student meets teacher on equal footing years down the road is rare enough. With Jim Hall—one of the most influential guitarists of the past half century—his spare approach, a reference point for younger guitar icons including John Abercrombie, John Scofield and Pat Metheny, has resulted in more magic than most. Hall and Metheny met successfully on Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (Telarc, 1999) and, while the elder guitarist also met briefly with Bill Frisell on a handful of tracks on Dialogues (Telarc, 1995), it was clear that the simpatico between them was profound and warranted further investigation. 13 years later—Frisell's star rising considerably during that time—the two reconvene for Hemispheres, a double-disc set with one disc of duo material and the other in quartet with bassist Scott Colley and Joey Baron, where their empathic relationship is finally and fully realized…
This [reissue] restores to circulation a strong Atlantic date from Art Farmer's immediate post-Jazztet period and features Farmer's quartet playing standards with swinging subtlety. Interaction, from 1963, is a vehicle for the intertwining improvisations of guitarist Jim Hall and Farmer, on flügelhorn, who weaves through and around Hall's sublimely understated lines with disarming ease, elegance, and sensitivity.
While Bill Frisell has released plenty of albums under his own name, this is his first true solo album – the first on which he plays all of the instruments himself. These include electric and acoustic guitar, six-string banjo, and bass, as well as the occasional looped sample. To call the music he creates on this album "introspective" would be something of an understatement. This won't come as a complete surprise to his fans – there has always been a gentle and meditative quality to his music, and even when he's gotten wild with his trio or with downtown pals like John Zorn or Vernon Reid, those moments of abrasive abandon have always seemed like detours from his more natural, but no less inventive and interesting, sweetness and good humor.
The defining characteristic of any given jazz musician is frequently his sound. The more control a player has over the nature of that sound, the more likely he is to project a distinctive musical personality.
A harmonically advanced cool-toned and subtle guitarist, Jim Hall was an inspiration to many guitarists, including some (such as Bill Frisell) who sound nothing like him. Hall attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and studied classical guitar in Los Angeles with Vicente Gómez. He was an original member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet (1955-1956), and during 1956-1959 was with the Jimmy Giuffre Three. After touring with Ella Fitzgerald (1960-1961) and sometimes forming duos with Lee Konitz, Hall was with Sonny Rollins' dynamic quartet in 1961-1962, recording The Bridge. He co-led a quartet with Art Farmer (1962-1964), recorded on an occasional basis with Paul Desmond during 1959-1965 (all of their quartet performances are collected on a Mosaic box set), and then became a New York studio musician…
Undercurrent has long been considered one of the classic piano/guitar duo sessions, pairing Bill Evans with Jim Hall.
On UNSPEAKABLE, Bill Frisell blends his distinctively lush, cerebral guitar style with the easy feel of his 1990s Americana-themed albums and a bit of the avant-garde sensibility of his '80s work, while never directly referencing either of these phases. In fact, the overall sound of UNSPEAKABLE is something new for Frisell–with a few notable exceptions, the record leans toward groove-heavy jams. The presence of horns, Adam Dorn's synthesizer, and the 858 Strings (a violin/viola/cello trio employed throughout the album for accent and effect) brings to mind, at times, the orchestrated, cinematic funk of '70s-era Isaac Hayes ("White Fang"), and, at others, '60s lounge music ("Del Close").