This 1988 studio date is one of the overlooked treasures in the considerable discography of Jim Hall, possibly due to the label's low-key promotion and less than eye-catching cover art. It is easy to understand why artists like Art Farmer and Paul Desmond omitted a pianist after hearing a release such as this one, because it would only clutter Hall's soft yet complete accompaniment. Joined by Tom Harrell (heard mostly on flügelhorn), bassist Steve LaSpina, and drummer Joey Baron, this CD is a delight from start to finish. The interaction of the musicians in the opener, a lively, waltzing "With a Song in My Heart," makes it sound like they have been a working unit for years. The well-conceived arrangement of "Where or When," which Hall dedicated to Basie guitarist Freddie Green (who died the year prior to the sessions), proves to be the most captivating track, with its understated yet consummately swinging air. Hall contributed the tense "Cross Court," a smoking post-bop vehicle, a pulsing calypso written originally for his 1985 Montreux concert with Michel Petrucciani and Wayne Shorter, as well as the haunting ballad "These Rooms," which opens with Harrell's melancholy unaccompanied trumpet solo, and has an abstract solo by the leader. "Something Tells Me" is a lovely bittersweet ballad by Jane Hall (Jim's wife, a talented composer whose work he has often recorded), featuring Hall and Harrell. Hall's unaccompanied take of Duke Ellington's "All Too Soon" makes one wonder why he has never recorded an entire album of guitar solos. This out of print CD is destined to become a collectible.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden