Things I learned from Jim Hall
- Develop melodic & harmonic material in as many ways as you can possibly imagine.
- Reach each listener with the impact and intent of each note you play.
- Playing quietly can be the most powerful thing you can do.
- Get inside the rhythm.
- Comp with less notes, and more sneakily.
- Don’t play selfishly.
- Play like a drummer.
- Play like a woodwind.
- Be wildly creative with your instrument, use the whole guitar.
- Never stop developing.
- Be a generous and kind person in your music and in your life.
I was lucky enough to get to meet Jim several times, at first through my first guitar teacher Tom Dempsey, and to attend a few masterclasses that he gave several years ago. My first contact with him was after I wrote a letter to him while I was in high school and mailed it through his label at the time, Telarc. He ended up getting the letter and then somehow tracked down my phone number and called me at home to talk to me for like 30 minutes. One of the greatest moments of my musical youth!
I’d loved his playing from the moment I heard him when I was so young. I’ve learned all those little lessons above there, before I even knew what they were, just from listening to him so much. Jim has been a constant inspiration in my musical life for as long as I’ve loved the guitar almost and I feel lucky, as so many countless others do too, to have had my life touched by his.
One of the greatest concerts I ever heard was when my wife bought us tickets for my birthday to hear Jim and Ron Carter play duo at the Blue Note two years ago. They sounded amazing that night! It was totally magical.