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Inner City Records IC 1099


  1. My Shining Hour

  2. I Hear A Rhapsody

  3. Falling In Love With Love

  4. If I Should Lose You

  5. Flamingo

  6. Angel Eyes

  7. There Is No Greater Love

  8. But Not For Me

  9. The Wolf And The Lamb

  10. Funk Among The Keys

    Tal Farlow - Guitar

    Mike Nock - Piano

    Lynn Christie - Bass

    Bob Jaspe - Drums (track 10)

    Tal (madge) Farlow possessed more than a distinctive first name. He was known as 'The Octopus' because of the sheer velocity with which he played the electric guitar. Speed, of course, doesn't always guarantee creativity but Farlow managed both and established a substantial reputation during the 1950s as a leading electric guitarist. Although he had a short spell with Artie Shaw, it was his time with the Red Norvo Trio which really made his name. The trio consisted of the vibes player Red Norvo, Charles Mingus on bass, and Farlow. By all accounts, it was a vibrant, bop-influenced group which yet anticipated later chamber jazz. Farlow owed a musical debt, no doubt, to his great predecessors on guitar, Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian, but also to other jazz musicians such as Art Tatum, Charlie Parker and Lester Young. This disc, produced for the Japanese market, followed a period of semi-retirement for Tal which had lasted some eighteen years, from 1958 until 1976. He then began recording albums again and indeed was to tour Europe with Norvo in 1982 as well as on his own in 1985 and 1986 respectively. He died in 1998.

    For this album, Farlow chose well, not only in terms of material (there are eight classic standards here out of ten tracks on offer) but also in his selection of the other group members. Bob Jaspe on drums appears only on the final track . Tarlow often played in a drummerless trio and even found ways to compensate for that absence by introducing appropriate rhythmic noises on the body of the guitar. What he does have on this disc is New Zealander Mike Nock on piano and Australian Lynn Christie on bass, both of them well-travelled at that time and subsequently. Nock was ultimately to take charge of artists and repertory for Naxos Jazz while Christie, who was a medical doctor and a multi-instrumentalist, was also involved with film score composition and played with symphony orchestras. They make excellent companions for Farlow.

    My personal favourites among the tracks on the album are the lovely ballad, If I Should Lose You, and The Wolf And The Lamb, the title song for a prospective Broadway musical by the producer of this recording, Teo Macero. All three musicians combine well for If I Should Lose You with Nock conspicuously good. The gospel flavoured The Wolf And The Lamb allows sparking interplay between piano and bass, then between bass and guitar. It provides a vehicle for the piano especially and swings nicely. Elsewhere, My Shining Hour is taken at a lick by the nimble and tuneful Farlow. Nock contributes an energetic solo and Christie provides both a bowed bass solo with attitude and rock-solid support. All the standards are worth hearing, whether lyrical (as in I Hear A Rhapsody) or breathless (as in Falling In Love With Love). Farlow's peerless technique is apparent throughout. Nock can be pensive or emphatic, as the occasion demands. Christie is the soul of consistency. The one track I felt was out of place was the only Tal Farlow original, Folk Among The Keys. It proved to be strangely at odds with the music to be found on the rest of the album.

    It is said of Tal Farlow that he became more melodic and less 'busy' in his playing with the passage of years. Part of the secret of his sensitive touch perhaps lay in the fact that he used his thumb rather than a plectrum. In any event, those already familiar with his work will know what to expect from this recording while those coming new to him will find plenty of evidence of the musical attributes which earned him widespread admiration during his lifetime.

    James Poore

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