Guitarist Jim Hall has long been one of the most open-minded of the important stylists to emerge during the 1950s, and his harmonically advanced style remains quite modern while hinting at its foundations in bop. For this Telarc CD, Hall teams up with five major players on two numbers apiece: Guitarists Bill Frisell and Mike Stern, Joe Lovano on tenor, flugelhornist Tom Harrell, and Gil Goldstein on accordion. Bassist Scott Colley and drummer Andy Watson are on the Frisell and Lovano tracks, and part of the Harrell and Stern performances. All of the compositions but "Skylark" are Hall originals and, although they are usually a bit dry, there are some exceptions: "Uncle Ed" and "Frisell Frazzle" are a little nutty. The emphasis throughout is on interplay between the lead voices and advanced improvising. Despite his strong sidemen (Stern and Harrell fare best), Jim Hall ends up as the dominant voice on virtually every selection, making this a set his fans will enjoy.
by Scott Yanow