Jim Hall

Storyteller: Circles/All Across the City

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Two of Jim Hall's excellent Concord CDs, Circles and All Across the City, are combined in this double-CD reissue. The trio, which includes bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke, temporarily expands to a quartet as Rufus Reid takes over the bass and Thompson shifts to piano for a brisk samba arrangement of "(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings." The leader's stripped-down arrangement of "Love Letters" focuses on his lyrical guitar. His poignant treatment of "I Can't Get Started" is deliberately paced and carries the message of this timeless standard with no vocal necessary. Hall's catchy "Down From Antigua" (which deserves lyrics!) stands out among his three compositions. Clarke wrote "T.C. Blues," a complex blues line that features lively interplay between Hall and Thompson. The bassist returns to piano for "Circles," an emotional duet with Hall. The 1989 session is also first-rate. With Clarke on drums, bassist Steve LaSpina, and the addition of keyboardist Gil Goldstein, Hall refuses to be pigeonholed. The subtle incorporation of Goldstein's synthesizer never overwhelms the beautiful bossa nova "Beija-Flor." His playful take of "Bemsha Swing" and lush interpretation of "Prelude to a Kiss" are masterful, while he adapts Bill Evans' changes and ending in a delicious version of Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean?" Hall also revisits several of his older compositions, including the childlike "Young One (For Debra)," written for his daughter, with its humorous calliope-like introduction by Goldstein's synthesizer; there's also the subtle "All Across the City," Hall's interpretation of the Big Apple at daybreak. Hall's strutting "Drop Shot" and Goldstein's turbulent, often free-form "R.E.M. State" are welcome new numbers, while Jane Hall (Jim's wife) penned the lovely ballad "Something Tells Me." This is an essential purchase for fans of Jim Hall.

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