Guitarist Jim Hall is the embodiment of what makes jazz special. First of all, there's something so absolutely honest about his music. If you need proof that Hall is the greatest living jazz guitarist, ask Pat Metheny. Or Bill Frisell. Or John Scofield. They will tell you that Jim Hall is their guy. I suspect musicians admire Jim for many of the reasons that we do. Chiefly, Hall's asset is his ability to listen to the other band members. Just imagine all those Jim Hall duets with Bill Evans, Ron Carter, or any number of guitarists, not to mention his ensemble playing with Sonny Rollins... "Down From Antigua" is one of Jim Hall's trademark compositions. As many times as I've heard this tune, it still sounds fresh.
WBGO recorded the Jim Hall Trio at The Jazz Forum, February 5, 1983.
Jim Hall, guitar
Harvie Swartz - bass
Ben Riley - drums
A Billy Strayhorn melody is so very nice to hear on solo piano. A Billy Strayhorn medley is even better when there are two pianos. In 1983, at the Jazz Forum in New York, the lyrical master John Hicks and the underrated Albert Dailey put Strayhorn's music on display for more than twenty-three minutes. 'Star-Crossed Lovers' (aka "Pretty Girl") and 'Chelsea Bridge' were songs that I always believed Strayhorn had tailor-made for their respective soloists, Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster. However, these are such tremendous songs, all they require are the hands of any master musician. On this particular evening in September, they received four master hands, and 176 piano keys.
Listen to the Billy Strayhorn medley, from the WBGO Archives.
You may know guitarist Kevin Eubanks from the Tonight Show Band. Each weeknight, he sits in front of the band, acting as a comic foil for host Jay Leno. Kevin has actually been the music director for the show since 1995, when Branford Marsalis departed. Eubanks has been on the show since 1992. He even penned the show's closing theme song, "Kevin's Country."
Kevin Eubanks is a jazz musician by calling. In fact, music is genetically programmed into the Eubanks clan. Just ask trombonist Robin Eubanks, who is currently blazing trails with the SF Jazz Collective touring ensemble.
Check out Kevin on "Blues for Wes," a duet tribute to one of the heroes of jazz guitar, Wes Montgomery. This selection is a duet recording with bassist Cameron Brown. WBGO recorded it in 1983 at the Jazz Forum in New York. Johnny Carson was still the host of the Tonight Show. Kevin Eubanks was starting a solo career. His television career was yet to come.