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  1. #1

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    Does anyone like to share some tales of the legendary Tal Farlow.

    Did anybody ever ask him specifically what gauge of strings he used? I know he says heavy in the Lorenzo DeStefano DVD and that the Standards Recital CD liner notes say D'addario but did anybody ever speak to him about it?

    Regarding the prototype Tal Farlow model, I understand some contributors actually played it. Does anyone remember the neck shape? Would it be a 60's slim taper profile?

    Also, does anybody know what became of the prototype after Tal died.

    I know these questions are equipment related but I'd be really interested to hear about anybody's memories of gigs, lessons from Tal, other players opinions on him, anybody else's questions, basically anything related at all.

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  3. #2

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    got to see him several times in the 80's and 90's.
    very nice shy guy, who always seemed to start out his gigs a little slow/nervous and then would warm up and start to burn later. he had a wooden stool he made w/an amp built into the bottom. there was always a line of people after his sets that wanted to compare their hand to his huge mitts.

    the last time I saw him he had replaced Barney Kessel in the 'Great Guitars' and was really slowing down-he couldn't play like he could in the past and sort of fumbled his was through the gig--it was very sad to see, the one exception being the ballad he played, I think it was 'Imagination' on which he sounded marvelous.

    he always played his Gibson TF model after it came out unlike earlier on when he played a modified ES-250 and later an ES-350. the one thing I remember about seeing him in the clubs was he always dangerously left his guitar laying on top of the stool in between sets.

  4. #3

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    I'd be curious to hear what folks know about his technique. Was he an alternate picker? Did he use the rest-stroke stuff like earlier players?

  5. #4

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    great player....

    did they also call him "octopus" because of his large hands..??

    monster player...


    time on the instrument..

  6. #5

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    Hey Puby - I'm a big fan of Tal's playing too. IIRC in an interview Tal said he used 12 gauge flatwounds made by Phillip Petillo. I think his prototype was stolen, so he then switched to playing a Gibson Tal Farlow reissue in the last part of his career - I would assume the neck profile of the prototype would be similar or identical to the reissue. I heard somewhere that Tal used Fender medium 351's, but on an old Guitar Player Magazine poster (full of famous player's picks) Tal's pick was a Fender heavy 351 with a very worn rounded tip from lots of playing.

    In terms of personal anecdotes, one of Tal's proteges - a guy called Dan Axelrod knew Tal very well, and if you search their names together on google you'll dig up some anecdotes there - or maybe contact him in person.

    Me and a friend (from Australia) rang Tal at his home back in 94 - we were young (I was 18) and thought we'd ring and just say hi and pay our respects to the master - Tal was super cool and friendly, and pretty much everything you would hope to expect in terms of talking to one of your musical idols. As it happens, a couple of weeks before us ringing he had another Australian guitarist visit him in New Jersey and Tal was saying how great it was having a jam together and what a fine player he was - the player was Peter Zog, who has dropped off the scene but a seriously good bop/hard bop player with chops to burn.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    I'd be curious to hear what folks know about his technique. Was he an alternate picker? Did he use the rest-stroke stuff like earlier players?
    I'm not sure either, but I think he used economy/sweep picking when ascending, and perhaps a combination of economy or alternate descending. In the instructional book on Tal by Steve Rochinski, he said that Tal would sometimes employ hammer-ons and pull-offs on faster tempos.

  8. #7

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    Perhaps you already saw this, but this an enjoyable video of the Hot Lick's VHS tape that came out in the 90's.



    He is still playing the prototype TF. Check out the fingerboard! A lot of playing.

  9. #8

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    Hi folks,

    I'm a Tal Farlow fan, and I was wondering if anyone can tell me which guitars Tal played in the late 40's and early 50's (pre PAF humbucker).
    Last edited by jkurtz7; 07-08-2012 at 05:02 PM.

  10. #9

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    i am not an expert but judging from the pics an ES 150 with cc pickup, and an ES 350 ?

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by fws6
    i am not an expert but judging from the pics an ES 150 with cc pickup, and an ES 350 ?
    I believe you are correct fws6. In fact, the Gibson Tal Farlow was designed by Tal and some at Gibson (Parsons Street Kalamazoo . . . now, why does that address ring a bell with me??) and the design was based upopn the ES350. (if I remember correctly). Tal hated the solid carved top guitars. He believed firmly on the virtues of a laminate top and back. I really liked Tal, the man, and I loved the music he made. But, I really didn't care much for his tone . . . . . or his precision in execution. (he was sloppy at times). It was always clear to me that Tal's one and only concern when he played was music and musicality. And he had a shit load of both within him. He didn't prefer the laminates for any reason other than he perceived the solid carved tops as a real PIA in a live combo setting. The jazz guitar world really misses him. So do I.

  12. #11

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    Tal played some really nice lines. You're right about his tone. It was a bit trebly and thin but he made it work really well. I've got one of his instructional books. There's some really nice info there. I refer back to it from time to time.

  13. #12

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    I've transcribed few solos of Tal...He was great player.

  14. #13

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    In the 1940s and the early 1950s (for examp0le when he was in the Red Norvo trio) he was picured with an ES150 with a CC PU.

    Later in the 1950s he used a two PU ES 350 which he tinkered with himself. He removed the fretboard, sawed off the first fret, so the second fret became the first fret and glued it back on to get a shorter scale and replaced the neck P90 with an original CC. This was the guitar used on the 1950s Verve recordings.

    Still later, when he used the Gibson Tal Farlow model, on some photos it could be seen that he had placed what looked like a single coil PU just besides the neck humbucker. On other photos he was seen with the plain unmodded model - likely he had more than one sample.

    Tal described himself as a perpetual tinkerer who always modded everything - also his guitars. Reportedly, he had a talent with tools. BTW, for quite a number of years, he made his livng as a sign painter which was his original profession.

  15. #14

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    in the early shots you see of Tal w/Norvo etc. he played an ES-250, not a 150. This was the guitar that he cut the neck/scale length down

    He used the modified 350 for a while as Dane mentions, then his signature models for the rest of his career..

    Great player, I don't find him to be 'sloppy'. He tried to pull off some really hard stuff and succeeded sometimes, other times didn't, much like Barney Kessel.

    got to meet him a few times, there'd be line of people after his sets who approached him to compare hand sizes, he had those huge mitts.
    really nice shy guy who made his own amps as well.

    a few times when I saw him he had a stool w/ a built in amp he sat on.

  16. #15

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    >he played an ES-250, not a 150.

    ouch ! Told you I was not the expert. So now we have to be on the lookout for a 250. Thats a hard one to find.

  17. #16

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    I would say the Tal wasn't always precise in his playing, but he is still my favorite jazz player. I happen to like his brighter sound as well.
    I guess I'm more concerned with the types of pickups he used before he started using his Sig model since I'm not an arch top guy.

  18. #17

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    well es 150 or 250 most of what you heard is a CC pickup. Many jazz/ swing players nowadays favor one of those in a solidbody, see for instance the Pete Biltoft, Jason Lollar websites or this ones from the UK CC Pickups - Pickups

  19. #18

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    Somehow I missed it when Tal passed away. How long ago was that?

    I caught him live at Yoshi's in Jack London Sq. in Oakland a few years ago. Always been a fan and he really stretched out in this jazz venue. Blew me away.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Section Player
    Somehow I missed it when Tal passed away. How long ago was that?

    I caught him live at Yoshi's in Jack London Sq. in Oakland a few years ago. Always been a fan and he really stretched out in this jazz venue. Blew me away.
    Tal passed way back in 1998. Just a wonderful man. Never met anyone who had a bad word to say about him.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by fws6
    >he played an ES-250, not a 150.

    Thats a hard one to find.
    You're right, Frank. That's a hard animal to coax out of the woods. In all my years of collecting, I think I only saw one for sale somewhere. There might have been others but I never saw them.

  22. #21

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    Anybody know what's up with the little (DeArmand?) pickup slapped up against his neck humbucker?
    What's it's purpose? How is it activated?

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat5
    Anybody know what's up with the little (DeArmand?) pickup slapped up against his neck humbucker?
    What's it's purpose? How is it activated?
    I think it might be to do with an octave divider (just like an octave pedal) that Tal invented himself, and that pickup is engaged whenever Tal used it.

  24. #23

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    Tal is in my top three, the other two being Joe Pass and Wes. I was listening to "The Tal Farlow Album" on my iPod yesterday, 25 years after first being introduced to it by my guitar teacher. I went to the village and bought a copy on vinyl, and yes, vinyl wasn't some retro thing at that point.

    This is what has always struck me:

    1. The phrasing and the lines. They're so unmistakable and don't sound like anyone else.

    2. The speed. He said he became fast by playing with Red Norvo, because it was either play fast or be embarrassed. Norvo used to like to play really fast tempos. I think both Tal and Mingus became much faster as a result of playing with him.

    3. The fact that he grew up in Greensboro, NC, not exactly a hot bed of jazz, yet was able to develop this amazing and influential style from what I read was sort of sub-par equipment in the early days. He's such an organic, homegrown type of player.

    4. He didn't really start playing jazz until he was 21.

    I listened to "Stompin' At The Savoy" from the aforementioned record several times yesterday, just because I like the lines and the phrasing so much. It has great energy.

    In an interview with "Guitar World" magazine, Ray Davies of "The Kinks" mentions Tal:

    GW: How would you describe the influence of country music on the Kinks in general and on you in particular?

    Davies: Immense. I can't deny it. Although, again, its like music hall. It's not cool to say it, but the influence of country pickers like Chet Atkins was a big one on me. I'm not sure about Dave. One of the great thrills for me was when the Kinks played the new Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and Roy Acuff was at the side of the stage. To me, that was it. That was making it. [laughs] All the early records I owned were basically instrumentals. People like Tal Farlow. He was more of a jazz player, but if you listen to his style, it's got a lot of country in it. When I do my solo shows, we have a little Chet Atkins playing as people are walking out, as well as some Hank Williams at the beginning. To me, Hank is still one of the greatest. When Dave and I were growing up, just rehearsing at home, we used to do all the Hank Williams stuff--in harmony. That would be a party piece for us, to do a Hank Williams song.
    I've also read an interview with him in "Rolling Stone" where he mentions Tal as an influence. If I recall correctly his original aspiration was to play that way, and he realized how difficult it was. And he's right; Tal's playing does have a lot of country in it.
    Last edited by paynow; 10-26-2013 at 06:57 PM.

  25. #24

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    Jazz guitarist George Barnes named Tal the octopus.

    I saw Tal live in Boston around 1982 or '83. He had the wooden stool mentioned above and his signature Gibson. Tal had a roaring head cold and probably should have been home in bed. What I recall most from that night is he played about six fairly uptempo choruses on Body and Soul all in harmonics. It was an astounding performance.

    Wes Montgomery named Tal as one of his favorite players in an interview he did with Ralph Gleason. Wes noted that he was considered "sloppy" by some but Wes dug the drive and excitement in his playing.

    Here's a link to an interesting concert featuring Tal with Larry Carlton, Larry Coryell, John Scofield and John Abercrombie. Strange "string fellows" in many ways. Tal plays a very different style here than his early fire breathing days.


  26. #25

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    Here's my last time together with Tal. I'm very impressed with *paynow's* comments on some of Tal's history. First and foremost . . . what a wonderful person. His passion was his guitar and the music he was able to make with it. A testament to the kind of selfless person he was, was his willingness to give it all up and go back to a more lucrative profession of sign painting in Spring Lake, NJ.

    Some called him octopus because of his huge hands. I called him Spiderman. I did play one of his Tal Farlow signature guitars . . . but, I don't think it was the proto type. I was unimpressed with the guitar. But, then again . . I'm not Tal Farlow . . . no one is.

    Last edited by Patrick2; 10-26-2013 at 11:02 PM.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2
    Here's my last time together with Tal. I'm very impressed with *paynow's* comments on some of Tal's history. First and foremost . . . what a wonderful person. His passion was his guitar and the music he was able to make with it. A testament to the kind of selfless person he was, was his willingness to give it all up and go back to a more lucrative profession of sign painting in Spring Lake, NJ.

    Some called him octopus because of his huge hands. I called him Spiderman. I did play one of his Tal Farlow signature guitars . . . but, I don't think it was the proto type. I was unimpressed with the guitar. But, then again . . I'm not Tal Farlow . . . no one is.
    I love that pic Pat. Is that at "Mandolin Brothers?"

    It occurred to me yesterday that I got to see Tal play once live, for at least a couple of tunes. I was in my teens, and there was a local seafood joint that featured jazz. There was a Chinese restaurant in the same shopping plaza and we had gone there for dinner, my Dad noticed the sign indicating Tal was playing at the other place, and I think he knew one of the local guys hired to play the job so we stopped in to say hello (this is in Westchester County, NY, my father was a bass player). I don't remember if I met him, and I know we couldn't stay long because we had a group of family members with us, but I do remember asking my Dad "who is that guy?" I had just started playing guitar and the encounter made me realize how much I didn't know, or, more pejoratively, how much I stank.

    Here's a video with Jody Fisher that really points out how naturally playing came to Tal:

    http://www.amazon.com/An-Evening-Tal.../dp/B000FFWVUM

    I say this because in addition to being a shy, humble cat, students ask him questions looking for some great secrets and his answers are mostly of the "I just do it" category. It always seems as if it's difficult for him to quantify his method since it came so naturally to him. It would be like pestering DiMaggio for information: "Say, Joe, how can I play centerfield just like YOU?" It's hard for the naturally gifted to answer these things. Better, as always, to take elements and incorporate them into your own playing.

    The Steve Rochinski book, which was mentioned above, is great:

    http://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Style-Tal...+of+tal+farlow

    There's a full transcription of "Gibson Boy" from "The Tal Farlow" album. I started to learn it. It's deceptively fast, but the hardest thing about it is getting the phrasing down. There are other great transcriptions in the book too, and there are a couple of pages on the "bongo" technique Tal would use. I think instruction on the harmonics may be in there too, though after seeing a video of Tommy Emmanuel do them, I may have to stop doing them.

  28. #27

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    No, paynow . . that was not taken at Mando Bros. It was at a small music shop in Rutherford, NJ. RME . . for Rutherford Music Exchange. The shop was owned by the now deceased Eddy Capuano. Eddy was very good friends with my jazz guitar teacher (at that time) Vinnie Corrao. Vinnie and Tal were best buddies inside and outside of music. They did many duo gigs together. I originally met Tal through Vinnie. Eddy asked Vinnie if he could arrange a series of duo performance/clinics with Vinnie and Tal at his shop. What a great venue to catch these two masters playing together. There was never more than 15 to 20 people there. It was very informal. The two of them would just hang and talk with everyone for about the first 30 minutes . . then, Tal would look at Vinnie and say . . "whadda say we play a little?" Then, they'd sit . . look at each other . . and one or the other would start to play. No spoken words. No calling out of tunes. Tal would start a tune . . Vinnie would either smile and join in . . or put this inquisitive look on his face as if to say . . "where'd you get THAT one from?". But, then when Vinnie caught up to the key and progression . . he'd smoke it.

    Tal would sometimes just start noodling . . Vinnie would respectfully hang back and not play . . then Tal would turn the noodling into an amazing chord melody solo. BIG applause would follow. Then, Tal would rest his forearm on the upper rim of his guitar and look over at Vinnie as if to say . . . "OK, my friend . . it's your turn". Then Vinnie would launch into an amazing chord melody solo of his own. Again . . HUGE applause would follow.

    Vinnie is much more of a formally educated musician than Tal ever was. That was always evident in their chord melody solos. As someone mentioned earlier . . Tal just played. Someone asked about his picking technique . . alternate picking, rest strokes, etc.. If you asked Tal about it he'd have probably said . . "hell, I don't know. Here's what I do". Then, he'd grab his guitar and show you. It was obvious to anyone who ever watched him play that he never even gave such things a second thought. His left and right hand coordination was just total spontaneity.

    I once asked him about his studies in guitar early on. He told me that he just tried to learn as many songs as possible and he would pick up little things here and there from better players. He always spoke very favorably about his time in USO gigs with Air Force bands in Greensboro, NC. He was extremely humble and understood full well what his strengths and short comings were. He learned his music and his playing not from musical courses given at top notch universities. . or from Berklee or Juliard . . he learned from records and from mistakes. He learned by hearing what worked and what didn't.

    At one of the seminars Tal and Vinnie did at RME, they stopped to take questions. They said . . "nothing is off topic, ask what ever you want". The first question was a comical one. A guy asked Tal what kind of hand excercises he did to get his fingers to grow to be so long. Then, one of the guys asked each about how they learned. Vinnie gave a long answer of the educational path that lead up to his skills and abilities. He gave most of the credit to the time he spent studying with Joe Cinderella. Tal looked at him, smiled and said in his humble slight southern drawl . . . . "I really envy that. I did it backwards. I learned how to play the guitar, then I learnd how to play songs . . then, somewhere along the way I learned a little bit about music". Then he aimed his thumb at Vinnie and said . . "but, I still don't know nearly as much about music as this guy". That was typical Tal Farlow. Vinnie just shook his head "no" in disagreement and in acknowledgement of who the master of that duo was. That was/is typical Vinnie Corrao.

    I just recently had a VHS of Vinnie and Tal at one of these duo seminars converted to DVD. I really wish I knew how to post it on youtube. This is really something that the whole jazz guitar community needs to see. If someone wants to take the time to do it, I'll make a copy of the DVD and send it to you. Hey, paynow . . are you up for it? If so, PM me and I'll get your address and send it out to you.

  29. #28

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    Would love to see it, Patrick. Would be a great contribution to all the amazing resources available on YouTube.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    Would love to see it, Patrick. Would be a great contribution to all the amazing resources available on YouTube.
    I've mentioned it here before. I'm going to try to get it done. It's a third generation video. As you can see from the date signature on the photo I posted, these sessions were done in 1994. So, this DVD that I have was shot on a VCR. Then, I borrowed the VHS from the guy who shot it and had a copy made. Then, I recently had it put onto a DVD. So, it's a bit grainy . . but, the audio isn't too awful bad. I've got a friend who's pretty tech savvy. I'm going to drop by his shop tomorrow and ask him if he could post it onto youtube. If I do get it done, I'll make an announcement here and include a link to the URL.

  31. #30

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    Great posts Patrick - I really dig hearing about stuff like that, especially because I'm over here in Australia.

  32. #31

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    The first time I met Tal Farlow was in Cardiff when he visited the UK with Red Norvo and played with a local bass player.

    I took this photograph of him and got him to sign it on a subsequent visit.

    Tal Farlow-talfarlow-jpg

    I went along to any UK gigs which were near enough to where I live and got to know him fairly well. He always acknowledged me when he saw me in the crowd. One of the first things I said to him when he was making some adjustments to his guitar was to suggest that he might consider getting a Gibson Les paul (IN JEST!!) and I'll always remember the laugh and "I don't think so!". One of the things I noticed about his prototype was that he had put wood screws just behind the bridge to locate the position if it ever got accidentally moved.

    His playing deteriorated during his latter years and I always listen to his 50's material whenever I want a shot of Tal Farlow. He was an undoubted giant of Jazz Guitar!!

    Wes Montgomery was instrumental in naming one of his later albums - ".....and then along came Tal Farlow, POPPIN' AND BURNIN'".

    DG

  33. #32

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    Something else I learned from watching Tal: Economy of motion when picking. He doesn't make big, jerky movements. His movements are very slight.

    Regarding the "Hot Licks" video, a clip of which is posted above. Back "in the day" those were on VHS and came with a booklet. I still have them both someplace. Arlen Roth had his company in Vista, a "town" in Westchester, more like a postal designation and a firehouse, that even those of us who grew up in Westchester have to ask "where the hell is it?" I actually called up, asked if the video was there, got out a map, and drove over to the place to get it. It wasn't even a retail store, more like a house, or a warehouse.

    Thankfully the catalog was acquired in 2006 and DVD transferring started. It's great educational material.

    Tal with Red Norvo and Charles Mingus; still some of my favorite recordings of all time
    :


    Attached Images Attached Images Tal Farlow-red-norvo-trio-tal-farlow-charles-mingus-red-norvo-trio-tal-farlow-cha-jpg 
    Last edited by paynow; 10-31-2013 at 04:02 PM.

  34. #33

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    Thanks for all your info folks, just a couple of points. I remember Tal saying he fitted the DeArmond to drive his frequency divider (octaver). I also seem to recall reading that it was actually his production type Tal Farlow model i.e. one of the original 215 made, that was stolen. That guitar is pictured in the montage of stills in the Lorenzo DeStefano film. Still eager to hear from anybody with any more stories.
    By the way, has anybody got a copy of the Hot Licks Masters Series of audio cassettes and booklet that Tal did for Arlen Roth in the early 1980's

  35. #34

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    The guitar in the Red Norvo Trio shot above (ES 250) is the one with the modified fingerboard.

    By fitting a fingerboard which is one fret width shorter (cut off) at the nut (but normal scale length) it gave him extra reach at the body. The body, in this case, was non-cutaway and has 15-16 frets clear of the body. Normally this would be 14. The bridge was then moved to compensate.

    He was quite a tinkerer.

    DG
    Last edited by daveg; 11-07-2013 at 06:08 AM.

  36. #35

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    I shook Farlow's hand after I witnessed a brilliant set he played in the early 1980s. My right hand literally disappeared up to the wrist.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtfree
    I shook Farlow's hand after I witnessed a brilliant set he played in the early 1980s. My right hand literally disappeared up to the wrist.
    Tal would have been a great third baseman, and he wouldn't have needed a mitt. I think the NBA cold have used him. Of course, he'd play for the Jazz.

    Don't applaud. I'll be here all week, be sure to tip the wait staff.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by daveg
    The guitar in the Red Norvo Trio shot above (ES 250) is the one with the modified fingerboard.

    By fitting a fingerboard which is one fret width shorter (cut off) at the nut (but normal scale length) it gave him extra reach at the body. The body, in this case, was non-cutaway and has 15-16 frets clear of the body. Normally this would be 14. The bridge was then moved to compensate.

    He was quite a tinkerer.

    DG
    I've always found this fascinating. I think he also de-tuned a bit to get better action. I'm not sure if that was with Norvo, or with his own groups.

    I remember reading someplace, perhaps in liner notes for the Norvo Savoy Sessions, that his first "amp" was a speaker from Sears that he kicked a hole in to get more volume, or something along those lines. I'm not sure if I'm stating this correctly.

    Here's an excellent scale length reference from Stew Mac:

    http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Fret...alelength.html
    Last edited by paynow; 11-07-2013 at 10:04 AM.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by pubylakeg
    Thanks for all your info folks, just a couple of points. I remember Tal saying he fitted the DeArmond to drive his frequency divider (octaver). I also seem to recall reading that it was actually his production type Tal Farlow model i.e. one of the original 215 made, that was stolen. That guitar is pictured in the montage of stills in the Lorenzo DeStefano film. Still eager to hear from anybody with any more stories.
    By the way, has anybody got a copy of the Hot Licks Masters Series of audio cassettes and booklet that Tal did for Arlen Roth in the early 1980's
    If you're really interested in stories about Tal . . and you obviously seem to be . . call Just Jazz Guitars magazine and ask them if they have a back issue reference to the interviews given with other top name players who knew and played with Tal. The Jimmy Bruno interview is particularly entertaining. I remember Jimmy saying he mistakenly assumed that due to Tal's age and health . . his playing would have slowed down a little. He then went on to say he was amazed right from the very first tune they played together that Tal was still smokin' hot. Then, Jimmy said . . and I can quote this because I remember it exactly as was writen in the article . . "Then, in about the third tune, he was warmed up . . . .Wow!"

    I was trying to find the article on line for you and I ran across this gem. Lewis Stewart is a Master who just doesn't get enough props

    Last edited by Patrick2; 11-07-2013 at 11:33 AM.

  40. #39

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    I waited in line with a few (also underage) friends to see Tal and Lenny Breau. Our hearts sank when someone actually started checking ID's. We didn't pretend to be be 21, we just said "we'll drink ginger ale all night, we came to hear the music….please, please please". The big guy said "OK", but I'm gonna be watching you, if I see any alcohol at your table you're all out. This was a club owned by a true lover of jazz; they closed the bar until a set was over! The performance was mesmerizing and inspiring. As for gear, I remember Tal used a Fender amp and at some point it started making a loud hissing noise. In frustration he took his enormous hand and gave a bang to the top of the amp. The hissing stopped, only to be replaced with laughter from everybody that this "technique" worked.

  41. #40

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    LOLOLOL . . . great story. And I can certainly relate to it. "Back in the day" . . I had a 1954 Chevy. Paid $15 for it. This was in 1965. I was 15 years old and didn't even have a license back then. I carried a rubber mallet under the driver's seat. I called it my "50 mile mallet". About every 50 (or so) miles . . the car would just die. I had to take the mallet and give the voltage regulator a whack or two. Then it would start up again . . . until the next time.

  42. #41

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    I grew up in Kalamazoo, the original home of Gibson guitars. As a kid in junior high, I would see the Tal Farlow signature jazzbox, but never knew who Tal Farlow was. At that time everything was hammered with the whole british invasion thing, So jazz got pushed to the back. I'm sure that Tal Farlow had visited Kalamazoo, and I probably knew some of the people who had met him, and got to hear him play close-up. wished I had been old enough to been able to take advantage of that.

  43. #42

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    Great thread!

    Anyone know what amp he played through for The Swinging Guitar of Tal Farlow? ​Everything about that disc blows me away. The tone! The flowing phrasing! This is a perfect LP.

  44. #43

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    Hi folks,
    Just a quick mention, after much googling and magazine searches, opinion seems to be that he used a Gibson amp, specifically a GA-50. Anybody have any experience of one ?
    All the best
    Puby

  45. #44

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    I have been privileged to know a lot of very unselfish, ego-less people in my life and one thing they shared in common was they were very hesitant to talk bad about someone else. You would have to really prod them to get them to "tattle" on someone or some group.

    Tal seemed to be one of those types of people.

    I say this because I have still not been able to figure out why he walked away from music. IN different interviews I have read and videos I have seen, he hints at his reasoning but he seems to refuse to throw anyone, or the music business under the bus.

    From all that I have read (which is all I can go on) the highs were high and the lows were low with being a Jazz musician back then. You might get ripped off by the promoter, approached with all kinds of elicit drugs, have to deal with racial situation that were not at all healthy, and face economic hardship. Any one of these reasons would have me looking elsewhere.

    Does anyone know the real Tal Farlow story on what prompted him to turn his back on performing for those many years, or is everyone left to speculate?


    Thanks.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by pubylakeg
    Hi folks,
    Just a quick mention, after much googling and magazine searches, opinion seems to be that he used a Gibson amp, specifically a GA-50. Anybody have any experience of one ?
    All the best
    Puby


    back in the day I used to use them exclusively, but I went back to Fender's when I started playing in organ groups and needed a lot more volume. I still have several of them laying around.

    Jim Hall used one forever before switching.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    I have been privileged to know a lot of very unselfish, ego-less people in my life and one thing they shared in common was they were very hesitant to talk bad about someone else. You would have to really prod them to get them to "tattle" on someone or some group.

    Tal seemed to be one of those types of people.

    I say this because I have still not been able to figure out why he walked away from music. IN different interviews I have read and videos I have seen, he hints at his reasoning but he seems to refuse to throw anyone, or the music business under the bus.

    From all that I have read (which is all I can go on) the highs were high and the lows were low with being a Jazz musician back then. You might get ripped off by the promoter, approached with all kinds of elicit drugs, have to deal with racial situation that were not at all healthy, and face economic hardship. Any one of these reasons would have me looking elsewhere.

    Does anyone know the real Tal Farlow story on what prompted him to turn his back on performing for those many years, or is everyone left to speculate?


    Thanks.
    The above reasons are probably why lots of pro's take a break or retire from the scene - but I'm more inclined to think Tal's move to NJ was largely in part because of the advent of rock and roll, in which the jazz industry shrunk virtually overnight - gigs were drying up all over the place. His first 'big break' was with the Red Norvo trio in 49', playing what was then mainstream music, and by the 60's his style of music only existed as a niche - not enough interest to comfortably make a living + Tal was in his 40's by then, so going back to signwriting and playing jazz locally was a pragmatic decision, despite the fact he was a musical genius.

    In the 60's lots of those guys dropped away from the scene - Johnny Smith and Jimmy Raney come to mind. Whereas others did session work in the (rock/pop) style of the day like Howard Roberts, and played jazz on the side.

    Also, Tal started gigging a lot in the late 80's and 90's up until his death in 98' - given that straight ahead jazz in that period underwent a bit of a renaissance after the fusion era of the 70's died out, so there was renewed public interest in hearing the 'old masters' again.
    Last edited by 3625; 11-21-2013 at 09:50 PM.

  48. #47

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    It's funny how every music genre has its season and then either artist change with the times or hope there is enough work to carry on. In the case of Jazz (and classical), it seems demand has to be artificially created by sponsors or the art form would really be in trouble, along with musicians of the art.

    Tal appeared to have done well, by all accounts, at creating a decent life for himself away from Jazz during his hiatus.

    Thanks.

  49. #48

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    Just thought I'd post this, there's a 1956 radio broadcast from The Composer club featuring Tal Farlow's trio with Eddie Costa on the net. Tunes are They Can't take that away from me, You don't know what love is and And she remembers me, rest of the set features Marian McPartland's trio.

    Not great recording quality but for those interested, here's a link:

    Newstalgia Downbeat - Tal Farlow And Marian McPartland Live At The Composer Club, New York - 1956 | Crooks and Liars

  50. #49

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    Today I paid attention to Tal's right and left hand techniques. He breaks all of the rules I learned except the one that says make great music.

    His left hand reminds me of Hendrix, with all the thumb wraps.

    This guy is amazing.


  51. #50

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    Because it matters not how you get to the notes that you hear in your head. What matters is that you get to them. Tal's playing technique was sometimes less than perfect . . . some even consider him to have been sloppy. But, there are players who have the picture perfect technique in both left and right hands . . . who would give years off of their lives to have Tal's technique (from when he was in his prime). Jimmy Bruno was one of many who wrote an obit on Tal after he passed. It was in Just Jazz Guitar. Jimmy said something to the effect of . . . "When we started playing, I was amazed that a man of his age had the speed he had . . . . then, he warmed up!!!" HUGH props from a guy with Jimmy's technique.

    Also,Tal used his thumb frequently . . far more than most, due to his massive hands.