ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Jim Hall, Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell: The Top Three Jazz Guitarists

Updated on February 22, 2015
Act 3 profile image

Chet has been interested in music since watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. As a guitar player, he studied jazz at NC State University.

Jim Hall
Jim Hall | Source

If there is a “holy trinity” of jazz guitar over the last thirty years, then Jim Hall is the father, Pat Metheny the son, and Bill Frisell the holy ghost. Metheny and Frisell both credit Hall as a major influence on their style and approach to playing guitar. Though there are huge differences between all three guitarists, close examination reveals important similarities. Sometimes the similarity shows up in their phrasing or choice of notes. In a more general way, these three have expanded the range of jazz guitar and refused to stay with expected limits and boundaries while still remaining true to the traditions of jazz.

Jim Hall passed away in December, 2013, at the age of 83. Throughout his career Hall played with atypical combinations of instruments. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was a sideman in several groups that performed and recorded without piano or percussion, forcing him to expand his harmonic and rhythmic approach to guitar. He explored “third stream” music, merging classical and jazz, in the 1960s and has written for and recorded with string ensembles. His extensive list of duet recordings include guitar in combination with other guitars, piano, trombone, percussion, and voice.

Notable examples are Undercurrent and Intermodulation, recorded with pianist Bill Evans in the 1960s, Live at the North Sea Jazz Festival, a 1999 release with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, and Charlie Haden-Jim Hall, a 2014 release of a 1990 concert with bassist Haden.

Jim Hall and Pat Metheny
Jim Hall and Pat Metheny | Source

Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny was one of the first jazz guitarists from the generation that grew up listening to The Beatles and other rock-pop music, as well as jazz. Though jazz remained his primary interest, the other influences show up in various places in his music. His early records from the 1970s had a distinctive and unique, for the time, guitar tone. Metheny embraced synthesizers and other tools that helped him expand and explore the tonality of the guitar. While this earned him criticism from some jazz purists, there is no denying the extent of his technique and musicianship.

Over 40 years into his career, Metheny continues to record and tour in trios and with the Pat Metheny Unity Group. These recent efforts have a more obvious mainstream jazz foundation than his work with his most famous ensemble, The Pat Metheny Group, which has been on hiatus since a 2005 world tour.

Jim Hall and Bill Frisell
Jim Hall and Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell

Following just a few years after Metheny, Bill Frisell also presented a distinctive sound at the beginning of his career. In early recordings, the sounds from his guitar often swirled and floated, creating ethereal waves of music that could suddenly shift into clusters of distorted notes and feedback. Over the years Frisell has embraced bluegrass, country, folk and African music, incorporating all of these into a sound that remains unique and authentic.

Frisell also continues to maintain an active recording and touring schedule with several different ensembles. His recent records have continued explore various styles of American music, yet his presence and sound remains distinctive and recognizable.

While Metheny and Frisell are widely known by lovers of jazz and guitar, and even have name recognition beyond those overlapping circles, Jim Hall is still too often overlooked, especially by younger music fans. Following is additional information about his career and music.

Jim Hall

Jazz guitarist Jim Hall (1930 - 2013) began recording in the late 1950s. He continued to record and perform into his early 80s, with several performances in 2012. Hall is frequently listed as a major influence on the large number of jazz guitarists a generation younger, including Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Mick Goodrick and Mike Stern.

Early in his career Hall was a sideman in piano-less jazz groups, working with Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Guiffre and Art Farmer. He was heavily influenced by these horn and reed players, especially Rollins. The experience of working in a group setting without a keyboard player helped to form Hall's unusual and inventive style, which relies heavily on note clusters, strategic use of open strings and rhythmic patterns.

Guitarist Jim Hall and Bill Evans set the standard for piano-guitar duos

In the mid 1960s Hall recorded a pair of records with pianist Bill Evans. These duo records, Intermodulation and Undercurrent, served to strengthen Hall's reputation as a unique and original voice in the world of jazz guitar.

Beginning in the late '60s and continuing through the decades since, Hall has made an extensive series of records under his own name, leading both small and large ensembles. He has continued to collaborate with other well known jazz musicians recording duo records with Ron Carter, Red Mitchell, George Shearing, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and others.

Though firmly grounded in mainstream jazz, Hall has continued to evolve and explore rather than remaining stuck in a particular era or style. His catalog includes sessions with third-stream jazzers and classical musicians, orchestral arrangements and unusual duo combinations, sometimes pairing the guitar with only percussion or trombone.

Pat Metheny and Jim Hall live: All The Things You Are

Jim Hall and Bill Frisell video - live duo in 2010


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)