While most jazz documentaries tend to concentrate on musicians who have either passed away or are no longer in their prime, this phenomenal DVD by Bruce Ricker features on jazz legend who is in the midst of the most creative stage of his already prolific career.
Filmed in 1998, this release combines vintage footage of guitarist Jim Hall performing with the likes of Chico Hamilton, Jimmy Giuffre, Sonny Rollins and Art Farmer as well as clips of Lester Young, Ben Webster, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Count Basie and Freddie Green.
The film's contemporary sections focus on the making of Hall's extraordinary album 'By Arrangement' featuring numerous guest artists and a complete string and brass ensemble in addition to the guitarist's working trio with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Terry Clarke.
Hall has recently rediscovered his prodigious talents as a composer and arranger - releasing numerous top-notch albums in recent years. 'By Arrangement' is certainly no exception. Star soloists Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny and Greg Osby can be seen here in rare form, rising to the challenge presented by Hall's breathtaking and difficult charts.
The film also boasts poignant interviews with the aforementioned guest artists as well as such important jazz figures as Chico Hamilton, Nat Hentoff, and John Lewis. These interviews bring Hall's enormous influence to light - with many of the greatest players of the day expressing their awe of Hall as a guitarist, and their love fro him as a person.
Narrating his life from his humble beginnings in Cleveland to his development as a leader, Hall comes across as a caring and dedicated family man, with a wry sense of humour, and understated charm.
The guitarist's musings on how he approaches music are fascinating, and the performance segments give credence to the notion that Jim Hall is the single most important living guitarist.