Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This is Tal Farlow

Tal Farlow was born in 1921 in Greensboro North Carolina. When he was about eight years old his father gave him a mandolin tuned similarly to the top four strings of a guitar and taught him a few chords. Tal became able to play this instrument in a chord melody style. Later when he was given a six string guitar Tal opted to retain his existing four string fingerings and simply used his thumb on the two new low strings. This was an important factor in the development of his approach to harmony. Tal trained as a signwriter and continued with this work throughout his life in parallel with his music. His interest in the guitar was greatly increased when he heard the electric guitar of Charlie Christian around 1941 and he learned many of Charlie's solos note for note from the records Charlie made with Benny Goodman's band. Later he listened to other musicians on other instruments — pianists Art Tatum and Al Haig and saxophonists Lester Young and Charlie Parker. His first serious professional music job was in 1944 in Dardanelle Breckenridge's trio. They played in Baltimore and Philadelphia. From there Tal moved to working in New York with Marjorie Hyams and then settled into the Marshall Grant Trio. In late 1949 he was spotted by Red Norvo and asked to join a new vibes, guitar, bass trio that Red was forming. They set up a residency in Los Angeles and recruited Charles Mingus as the bassist. At first Tal struggled to keep up with Norvo's very fast tempos but soon improved his technique so much that he became one of the fastest guitarists in the world at that time. In 1953 Tal left the Norvo trio and moved back to the East Coast where he recorded as a sideman with Gil Melle and Howard McGhee. He then joined the final incarnation of Artie Shaw's Gramercy Five for about six months. After this he recorded as a leader for the first time for Blue Note in a quartet with second guitar, bass, and drums and retained a similar line up for a second record for Norgran. In the summer of 1954 he rejoined Red Norvo's trio which now had Red Mitchell on bass. In early 1956 Tal moved back to New York to play a residency at the Composer Club as leader of a trio with pianist Eddie Costa and bassist Vinnie Burke. Over the next three years this trio made a number of very successful records and Tal won several awards. Apart from his tremendous speed of execution he had developed a very rich sense of harmony for which his very large hands were a tremendous asset being able to stretch to play chords which most players could not reach. He also developed great facility in playing artificial harmonics and a number of other devices such as tapping the strings to give a very realistic imitation of bongo drums. In 1958 Tal married and moved to the quiet New Jersey coastal town of Sea Bright. Here he carried on his other career of signwriting while teaching a small number of guitarist pupils and playing a few local gigs. After 1959 he did not visit a recording studio until 1969 when he recorded The Return of Tal Farlow. After this he again returned to his quiet lifestyle but in 1976 recommenced recording. In the 1980s Tal became much more visible. He made half a dozen recordings for the Concord label and began playing much further afield again - including Europe and even Japan. His playing had developed and was now more lyrical with richer harmony than ever before although perhaps with a little trade off against outright speed. He would often deputise for one of Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, or Charlie Byrd in the "Great Guitars" band when needed. Tal continued to play concerts world wide until the mid 1990s when he slowed down a little although he still remained very busy in his native country with concerts and workshops. In 1997 he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. He continued to teach but sadly was unable to play in public any more and he passed away in 1998.

Source :

Tal Farlow
This is Tal Farlow
(Verve elite edition)


1 Lean on Me (Greene, Waldman)  4:11
2 Wonder Why (Brodszky, Cahn)  4:52
3 Night and Day (Porter)  4:21
4 Stella by Starlight (Washington, Young)  3:33
5 The More I See You (Gordon, Warren)  4:50
6 All the Things You Are (Hammerstein, Kern)  4:22
7 How Long Has This Been Going On ? (Gershwin, Gershwin)  4:12
8 Topsy (Battle, Durham)  3:38
9 ‘Deed I Do [breakdown] (Hirsch, Rose)  0:37
10 ‘Deed I Do [breakdown] (Hirsch, Rose)  3:05
11 ‘Deed I Do [breakdown] (Hirsch, Rose)  1:25
12 ‘Deed I Do [complete take] (Hirsch, Rose)  3:28
13 We’ll Be Together Again [complete take] (Fischer, Laine)  4:32
14 We’ll Be Together Again [complete take] (Fischer, Laine)  3:19
15 We’ll Be Together Again [breakdown - false start - breakdown] (Fischer, Laine)  1:57
16 We’ll Be Together Again [complete take] (Fischer, Laine)  3:24
17 The More I See You [false start - breakdown] (Gordon, Warren)  0:57
18 The More I See You [false start - inc. take] (Gordon, Warren)  2:32


Tal Farlow - g
Bill Takas [# 5-8] or Knobby Totah - b
Jimmy Campbell - dr

Recorded at WOR Sound Studio, New York City ; [# 1-4, 9-18] February 17 ; & [# 5-8] February 18, 1958. 

Tracks 1-8 original LP : This is Tal Farlow Verve MGV 8289
Tracks 9-18 previously unissued


Blue Eyes said...

Great album of T.Farlow, thanks Melanchthon !

lowgroove said...

Many thanks - great album indeed!

VeryBlasted said...


Anonymous said...

Thank You, again.

rio said...

by dloadin' I Got Mcghee-Farlow album half Mcghee & half Farlow

Melanchthon said...

deGallo said...

Thank you.

kingpossum said...

Hearty thanks for all the recent guitar jazz posts from Bickert, Pass, Much appreciated.

Hartelijk dank,

Bill said...

Thank you very much, Mel. Never heard this one!

musician3 said...

AMAZING.......................THANK YOU FOR ALL

Fred Archtop said...

Thanks Mel for this great post.

sep troelstra said...

Many thanks!!

AmyBRAINS said...


Jazzsoulman said...

Thank You