VOICES Notes and news on Collector's Corner releases
04 APR 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Guitarist Tal Farlow might be as celebrated for his famous reluctance to record or perform in public (even preferring, for a time, to earn his keep as a sign painter) as he is for his instrumental brilliance. Farlow recorded a half-dozen albums for Concord despite it, including the tasty and satisfying straight-ahead quartet date Cookin’ On All Burners (1983, Concord Jazz), where Farlow and pianist James Williams (as second soloist) warm up nine jazz-leaning pop standards.
Few guitarists mastered Farlow’s combination of speed, accuracy and touch, which polishes fleet-fingered runs in “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” and threads in and out of “Just Friends” like a needle. I usually prefer “Love Letters” read as a slowed down (almost bluesy) ballad, but Farlow and friends race through it with dizzying speed. He opens “If I Should Lose You” with a gorgeous soliloquy, soft and warm as a blanket, and rings out plucked high notes like a singing bird.
Farlow played jazz guitar like Chet Atkins played country -- smooth and warm, full-bodied and mellow, in style and sound. You can still hear some of Farlow’s early work with The Red Norvo Trios (1995, Prestige), while the double-disc Autumn Leaves (2003, Concord Jazz) pairs up two of Farlow’s final recording sessions. The Return Of Tal Farlow/1969 (1989, Original Jazz Classics) and A Sign Of the Times (Concord Jazz, 1992) are found between.