Compositional Structure and Characteristic Ideas in the Improvisations of Jim Hall
Presented at the 2017 Jazz Education Network Conference  


Jazz guitarist Jim Hall had a successful and influential career that spanned from the 1950s to his passing in 2013.  In that time, he established his reputation as one of the great jazz musicians of the 20th century and built a legacy as a pioneer of modern jazz guitar.  In his career he performed and recorded with other notable musicians such as Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Ron Carter, Chico Hamilton, and Chet Baker. 

This study focuses on two aspects of Hall’s playing.  First, it analyzes and traces the development of compositional structures of thematic material in ten recorded solos, two from each of five different time periods in his career.  Second, it discusses several of Hall’s characteristic ideas, both in his playing at large and in the context of each of the five time periods.  These characteristics include his application of cells, syncopation, chords within a solo, angularity, finger rolls, and guide tones.

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