New York: Jim Hall, one of the leading jazz guitarists of the modern era, whose subtle technique, lyrical sound and introspective approach strongly influenced younger protégés such as Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, died early Tuesday at age 83, his wife said.
Hall died in his sleep after a short illness at his Greenwich Village apartment in Manhattan, said Jane Hall, his wife of 48 years who described her husband as "truly beloved by everybody who ever met him."
Hall, who led his own trio since the mid-1960s, remained active until shortly before his death. Last month, his trio performed a concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Allen Room with guest guitarists John Abercrombie and Peter Bernstein. He had been planning a duo tour in Japan in January with bassist Ron Carter, a longtime partner.
In 2004, Hall became the first of the modern jazz guitarists to be named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, the nation's highest jazz honor.
In the mid-1950s, as a member of pianist Jimmy Giuffre's innovative trio and drummer Chico Hamilton's chamber jazz quartet, Hall transformed the role of the guitar in jazz with his understated melodic and minimalist approach.
"What seems kind of frivolous and doesn't really impress me is guys, people, women … who have amazing technique but everything sounds worked out," Hall said in a 2003 interview for the National Endowment for the Arts. "They go through these chord changes with all these chops.
"Usually I wish I had the kind of technique to do that and then not do it, sort of. I like to make some kind of composition happen while I'm playing. That involves motive development. … I also love melodies. So I try to play melodies over tunes — have it go someplace and then come back."
"Jim was an essentially beautiful human being," Rollins said in an email. "I don't know anybody who didn't love him, including myself. He was the consummate musician and it was a privilege to work with him."
Hall was born on Dec. 4, 1930, in Buffalo, New York, and his family later moved to Cleveland. He picked up the guitar at age 10, and became interested in jazz as a 13-year-old when he went to the store to buy a Benny Goodman record and first heard Charlie Christian playing guitar on the tune "Grand Slam."