Fred Sharp's Jim Hall Discography
Fred Sharp on Jim Hall
Fred Sharp and Jim Hall have known each other since both were in their teens, and Fred was one of Jim's first guitar teachers. Here is Fred's memoir of the stellar career of his first student.
The Jim Hall Biography
By Fred R. Sharp
Over sixty years ago I left my home town of Cleveland Ohio to move to New York City and become a guitarist with the then popular Adrian Rollini Trio. I started playing the guitar when I was about eleven, joined the Musicians Union when I was sixteen and played in the Cleveland scene until about 1940. When I moved to New York , Besides Adrian, I worked with, Red Norvo, Dick Jurgens, Jack Teagarden, Muggsy Spanier, Peewee Russell, Miff Mole, worked in the staff band at WNEW and recorded for Muzak when it was owned by Ben Selvin.
About 1945 I moved back to Cleveland in one of my many moves back and forth on the New York Central Railroad.
In that year, Jim Hall's mother called me. Somehow she had heard of Freddy Sharp who was pretty well known as a guitarist in New York City.
She told me she had a son Jimmy who was 15 , played a guitar and wanted to quit school and become a musician. Well I guess she felt he needed a father figure, and I could help. She wanted me to teach him, and to talk him into finishing school. Jim's father had left the family some years before. Jim started studying with me and I kept him in school. I remember telling him that I could probably get him in a band, but he'd be a “kid” in the band and that he'd be better off finishing school. Not so with me. I only went to the 11th grade when my music took over. Being with Jim was one of the most treasured and valued experiences of my life. I could see that Jim would learn to play well within weeks. I remember he liked Charlie Christian a lot and bought a recording Christian made with Benny Goodman. Jim didn't even have a record player and brought it over to my house to hear it. My half hour lessons with him usually lasted about two hours. It was such a pleasure seeing this young man absorb every thing we did. Jim was very much like critic Constant Lamberts description of Django Reinhardt. Lambert wrote, ”Django swallowed and digested the guitar long ago….Now he was a ventriloquist.” Jim was very much like that.
His work with me consisted mostly of my showing him some of the things I played, like various inversions, flatted 9ths, suspended 4ths, flatted 5ths, etc, faking around chord forms and trying to play, not using all the standard clichés. We also spent a lot of time listening and studying the works of Carl Kress and Dick McDonough and of course Django Reinhardt. I'm proud that in an interview for Jazz Improv magazine, Jim said, “Fred was a great teacher and broadened my horizons”.
He finished school and went on to the respected Cleveland Institute of Music, studying theory, harmony and composition and graduated with honors, deservedly so.
The rest of Jim's life started with going to California, then to New York, where he now lives and has played and recorded with a who's who of jazz, including: Chico Hamilton, John Lewis, Hampton Hawes, Jack Montrose, Red Norvo, Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Brookmeyer, Ben Webster, Jimmy Rowles, Zoot Sims, Buddy Collette, Paul Desmond, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Dr. Billy Taylor, Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Gary Burton, Nat Adderly, Charlie Mariano, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Lee Konitz, Ron Carter, Atilla Zoller, Tommy Flanagan, Helen Merrill, Itzhak Perlman, George Shearing, Chet Baker, Michael Pettruciani, Gil Goldstein and Larry Goldings
The list of sidemen on his recordings is also very long and includes some of the worlds best. Jim is now composing some classical works.
I am most honored to do this work, and mostly honored to know one of the worlds best and creative guitarists and composers, Jim Hall, my friend of almost 60 years. We keep in touch regularly. He called me the other day and said.” Hi Fred. It's Jim..Jim Hall..your oldest living student.”