Category Archives: Musings

Jim Hall: A Gentleman of Jazz

Given some free time over the holidays, I have finally gotten around to resurrecting this blog.  My goal was initially to share lots of great recordings I’ve collected and archived through the years, but less than six months after starting the enterprise in late 2011, Megaupload was taken down by the powers to be, and I lost access to any easy way to publically disseminate the recordings I have (without paying a premium).   Meanwhile, on the business end of things, time has moved forward, and the world is more networked digitally than ever, cloud computing is everywhere, the CD is dead and there are lower musical wages across the board; so my artistic, societal, and career concerns are more relevant than ever and could use a fresh examination.   On the positive side of the digital revolution, I am now able again to make some musical offerings, so here we are!


The past year or so marked two very great losses for me in the jazz world, two of my biggest musical heroes, Jim Hall and Charlie Haden.  Both were original voices and gentle souls musically with exquisite beauty and lyricism whose notes will be sorely missed.

I remember meeting Jim Hall in the lobby of a Marriott at the Rochester Jazz Festival a few years back.  Steve Laspina introduced me, and to my dismay, an 80 year old Jim Hall stood up, supporting himself with a cane, offering his other hand to me and introducing himself by name, as if I would not know who he was.  I was flabbergasted, and bid him to sit, telling him that he needed no introduction, and that I was quite musically and artistically indebted to him.  From “These Rooms” with Tom Harrell, the duet albums with Bill Evans, and so much more, I’d have to say he’s on some of my all time favorite albums.   And meeting him in person, you immediately had this sense of him being a “gentleman” in the truest sense of the word.

This past year, I’ve been revisiting all the live concerts I have of his, and thought this would be a great time to share a few.

The first is from a stellar 2005 European trio tour with Geoff Keezer and Scott Colley, great complements to Hall’s poignancy.

The second is a rare duo gem with Bob Brookmeyer, with Red Mitchell joining on two tracks…Stockholm 1982. Check out the beautiful interplay and ears of these guys interpreting standards contrapuntally and more.  This kind of classicism is something I miss in much of today’s straight ahead music scene.  There’s such a sense of space here which allows the music to breathe in chamber like quality, while never sacrificing the rhythmic feel.


New Beginnings

Welcome to my new blog!  Rather than proselytizing on my personal life and political views, I’m hoping to create a forum here to share ideas on music and media as well as to post some transcriptions and other odds and ends. And as an audiophile and “recording archivist”, I thought a blog would be a great way to discuss and share some rare historical live recordings I’ve acquired through the years (and hopefully get some leads from readers as well in return!). And to my fellow musicians, we are all facing an era of rapid change in the music industry and society with the acceleration of the digital age; there are many issues that I think merit our attention so that we can remain vital and continue to bring our art to the world. Hopefully, a thoughtful discussion of such topics would be helpful for all of us!  Accordingly, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the music industry, book reviews, and more that I think could help all of us grapple with our roles in a changing world (and our desire/need to continue making creative music!). But more than anything else, I’m hoping to have a dialogue here on all the above, put our heads together and share resources and ideas from favorite practice routines to independently releasing an album to putting together a budget friendly hifi digital music setup.

But all that will all come in due time, as there’s lots of ground to cover!

So in the meantime, here’s my first audio offering:

1) Ever wondered what Coltrane sounded like at 25?  Here’s Dizzy Gillespie’s sextet and septet, radio broadcasts live from Birdland in early 1951 with Coltrane, Milt Jackson, Billy Taylor, Percy Heath, and Art Blakey (probable personnel).  I’m pretty psyched about the bass level in the mix, considering the source. It’s also interesting to hear Trane on Good Bait in 1951 and compare it to the 1963 Showboat recording 12 years later.

2) and for you classical enthusiasts, here’s one of my favorite pianists, Claudio Arrau, performing Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic in 1953 and 1982.  They make for an interesting comparison with a 29 year separation in performance dates.

as will always be the case, I intend no copyright infringement or violation (a topic of future posting); to my knowledge, these recordings are not commercially available.  The attached notes in the files are the original uploaders’.  And finally, if you are not familiar with megaupload, it is free and easy to use, no signup needed, just wait 45 seconds for the “regular download” link to be available and you can download the file in zip format easily.

Hope to see you back here!

-Thomson Kneeland