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Quartet Cookin’ With Tal


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.