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At 63, Guitarist Jim Hall Records His Autobiography

May 07, 1994|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Most often, memoirs are published in book form. But guitarist Jim Hall--who in his four-decade career has offered his clear-water sound and biting sense of swing with such greats as Sonny Rollins, Ella Fitzgerald, Itzhak Perlman and Paul Desmond--has chosen to gather his memorable moments in song form.

Hall's latest album, "Dedications & Inspirations" (Telarc), contains musical refections on the likes of Charlie Christian--the monumental Benny Goodman guitarist who has been the primary influence for electric guitarists from Wes Montgomery to B.B. King--Rollins, "The Far Side" cartoonist Gary Larson, and Hall's wife, Jane, a psychoanalyst and sometime composer. Homages to Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Joan Miro are thrown in to boot.

Hall, 63, who leads a splendid trio with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Bill Stewart on Sunday at the Jazz Bakery, wrote "Bluesography" for Christian and folk-blues guitarist Huddie Ledbetter, known as Leadbelly. The selection contains portions of "Grand Slam," the first solo by Christian that Hall ever heard.

"Street Dance" is for Rollins, with whom Hall performed and recorded in the early '60s.

"Sonny was a terrific leader," Hall says of his days with the tenor giant. "He was always concerned about whether we--bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Ben Riley--had enough money, and he was careful about how we dressed. We had uniforms that were each a different shade that complemented our various skin colors."

Hall says he was deeply influenced by Rollins' climactic, unaccompanied cadenzas, where at the conclusion of a tune, "he would take the tune apart and put it back together."

"Dedications & Inspirations" is, likewise, an unaccompanied effort, as Hall plays either solo or with overdubbed effects on all tracks. It's the type of project he never intended to undertake.

"I find solo playing boring after about 10 minutes. I even got bored with Segovia," he admits. "So I tried to think orchestrally, like Duke Ellington, to keep it interesting for me, and the listeners."

Hall now has new respect for the genre. "I filled in for Joe Pass in Europe, playing solo, and that was tough," he says. "It was hard work."

Information: (310) 271-9039.

Sheppard No No-Show: Saxophonist Bob Sheppard, who was listed as a "no show" in an April 27 review of a Freddie Hubbard concert in The Times, was actually not scheduled to appear with the trumpeter. Sheppard, who was once Hubbard's regular saxophonist, says that he has not played with him for two years. He was listed incorrectly on the program for Hubbard's April 25 appearance at Union Station through a series of misunderstandings.

"I was traveling in Japan with Steely Dan at the time and had never accepted that engagement," says Sheppard. Hubbard's manager, Michael Davenport, concurred, noting that he was aware that Sheppard was not contracted to perform, and that he had neglected to inform officials of the Da Camera Society, who promoted the event.

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