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Review: Jim Hall Trio

Jim Hall. LJF 2012

Jim Hall Trio
(Queen Elizabeth Hall, 18th November 2012. LJF. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

“In the last phase of maturity one could, one should, be straight with oneself,” writes the narrator of The Actual, a novella by Saul Bellow which he wrote in his eighties. Jim Hall is 81, and has found the way to say what needs to be said, no more and no less. He appeared frail, needing help to get on and off stage, but on the final evening of the London Jazz Festival last night, he was mesmerizing, .

There was no teasing of the audience with encores, the final number of his set was just that.
It was Sonny Rollins’ St Thomas, Rollins being a good friend of Jim Hall’s, the saxophonist a mere three months older than the guitarist. Hall’s economy of expression started with the first, descending four notes of the eleven note opening phrase. For Jim Hall, the first note is articulated, but the next three are just a gleeful slide down the frets. Solos were typically made up of  a few scattered stab chords and (as a doctor would prescribe) plenty of rests. Hall was very often content to allow bassist Steve LaSpina to be assertive and to carry the melody, he was happy to leave plenty of room for articulate and creative drummer Anthony Pinciotti

This was a trio which made the audience sit up and listen by playing quietly and subtly, by having civilized conversation – I’m not sure how audible it can have been at the back of the QEH – (I sincerely hope it was?). It’s not just the art of less is more, it’s the complete embodiment of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s advice to his son about how to give a speech: “Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”

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