On September 30, the newly reactivated impulse! label will release Charlie Haden-Jim Hall, a previously-unreleased recording of a stunning duo performance by these two recently departed masters at the 1990 Montreal International Jazz Festival. impulse! is a division of Universal Music France which is distributed by Blue Note Records in the U.S.
“This album documents a rarified journey,” writes pianist Ethan Iverson in the album's liner notes. “Charlie Haden and Jim Hall knew each for over a half century, played more than a few concerts together, and shared many ideals, but this is their first concert-length recording. It is a major addition to the discography of both artists.”
Upon hearing the recording guitarist Pat Metheny remarked “What a treat it is to hear two of my heroes and my two favorite personal duet partners playing in a setting like this! This is a recording for the ages.”
At first this might seem an unusual pairing – the dean of the avant-garde bass and a fellow that defined mainstream jazz guitar – but Charlie Haden and Jim Hall shared much common ground. Besides the decades of jazz history they each walked on stage with on July 2, 1990, they also both proved themselves to be masters of the Art of the Duo over the course of their illustrious careers: Haden with Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Kenny Barron, and more; Hall with Metheny, Bill Evans, Ron Carter, and George Shearing, among others. Together Haden and Hall bring thundering intimacy and gentle envelope-pushing on this profound series of duos.
Haden and Hall had something else in common as well, an earthiness that grounded whatever they’re doing, something that gives a listener something to hold onto. Haden’s background in folk music is never far away, just as shades of the blues and even folk-like simplicity are within Hall’s approach. Both gents swing—Haden with that big, pliant, supple, buoyant sound, Hall with those lithe, carefully considered lines and often crystalline notes.
The track listing for Charlie Haden-Jim Hall is as follows:
1. Bemsha Swing (Thelonious Monk/Denzil Best); 2. First Song (Charlie Haden); 3. Turnaround (Ornette Coleman); 4. Body & Soul (John Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour); 5. Down From Antigua (Jim Hall); 6. Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer); 7. Big Blues (Hall); 8. In The Moment (Haden).
As a youth in Shenandoah, Iowa, Charlie Haden (1937-2014) sang traditional country and folk songs with The Haden Family band, appearing often on the radio. At age 14 Haden became interested in the bass and its place in classical music and jazz. Migrating west for college in Los Angeles, Haden played with Paul Bley, Hampton Hawes, and perhaps most importantly, Ornette Coleman, who would in the 1950s usher in a new school of jazz known as “free jazz” or simply “the avant-garde.” Haden leads bands diverse as the politically-motivated Liberation Music Orchestra and the in-the-tradition combo Quartet West. Haden was the recipient of an NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship award in 2012.
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Jim Hall (1930-2013) began guitar at age 10—while he was influenced by jazz six-string titans Charlie Christian and Barney Kessell, it was from saxophonists Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins that Hall received his prime inspiration. After studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music, he too went to Los Angeles where he became established as a regular member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet. Hall went on to play in the groundbreaking trios of Jimmy Giuffre and the quartets of Paul Desmond and Sonny Rollins. Since, he’s led various trios and quartets and composed orchestral works. Hall was the recipient of an NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship award in 2004.