This fall, Other Minds released Sarah Cahill’s recording of works that have come out of her A Sweeter Music commissioning project, developed as a response to the Iraq War. Innova released High Art, a collection of pieces that San Francisco-based percussion/electric guitar duo The Living Earth Show has been performing regularly which were written for them by a younger generation of composers than those represented on Cahill’s disc.
Since I loved the way Jim Hall played, I called him to set up a time for a lesson. The thing I loved about him was how relaxed he made me feel. There was no ego there, no “look how great I am.” He gave you just what you needed and that has been his approach to his improvisations: just the right amount of notes, no more no less, played with impeccable style and a tone that leaves you wanting more and more.
Between sparse ambience and dense texture are the rhythms we can typically make sense of, and this is the territory that most music explores. But I’m sometimes sympathetic to the modernist mission, the manifest destiny that wants to find new lands. What is the furthest we can go, in either direction, without entering completely inhospitable terrain?
Jim Hall was one of those musicians whose playing changed how American music sounds. His imagination and technical command of the guitar allowed him to rethink and subsequently expand on the traditional approach to the instrument’s fretboard, almost as if he were playing a piano. One could say that Hall was a singular point in the culture of American guitar playing.