Sunday, October 11, 2015

Tal Farlow - 1977 "Trinity"

Talmage Holt Farlow (June 7, 1921 – July 25, 1998) was an American jazz guitarist. Nicknamed the "Octopus" for his extremely large hands which spread over the fretboard as if they were tentacles, he is considered one of the all-time great jazz guitarists. Where other similar players of his day combined rhythmic chords with linear melodies, Farlow preferred placing single notes together in clusters, varying between harmonically enriched tones based on a startling new technique.

This is one of Tal Farlow's more obscure recordings, which originally was released by the Japanese label Tristar in 1977, then reissued by Columbia in Holland the following decade. The guitarist sticks primarily to standards; his trio includes pianist Mike Nock and bassist Lynn Christie. The leader's lyricism is readily apparent in the lightly swinging take of "(There Is) No Greater Love," while his mastery of bop is evident in the lively interpretations of "My Shining Hour" and "But Not for Me." The lovely take of "Angel Eyes" begins with Farlow playing unaccompanied. There are two tracks present that don't measure up. Producer Teo Macero's "The Wolf and the Lamb" is an unstirred original. Farlow's "Funk Among the Keys" adds drummer Bob Jaspe and has Nock switching to electric keyboards, resulting in a bizarre song that sounds totally out of place on this otherwise enjoyable session.

The first 6 tracks on this disc comprise a set of well played jazz standards, in a drum-less trio with Australian-based pianist Mike Nock and Lynn Christie on bass. Christie bows through a couple of tracks which immediately gives this set an atypical texture. Recorded in New York in September 1976 and produced by Teo Macero, things move further in a different direction on track 7, "The Wolf and the Lamb", a Teo Macero-E.Capra composition that has a bouncy calypso-ish beat, driven by the piano and bass, with Tal relegated strictly to background rhythm. It's a pleasant instrumental, but a full step away from the previous 6 tracks.

Things get even more unusual on track 8, "Funk Among the Keys", which adds drummer Bob Jaspe. This time Tal is again the star, only he's experimenting with some wild electronic effects, giving him a fat tone with screaming sustains. The track has a funky fusion vibe which marks it as a novelty in Tal's catalogue. At that point I had to walk over to my CD player to make sure it hadn't switched discs! Not for purists, but worth checking out for hard-core fans of the great guitarist. 

A rare session from Tal Farlow's lost years – with Mike Nock on keyboards, and originally only issued in Japan! (Out of print.)

Track Listing:

1. My Shining Hour,
2. If I Should Lose You,
3. No Greater Love
4. But Not For Me,
5. Falling In Love With Love,
6. Angel Eyes,
7. The Wolf And The Lamb,
8. Funk Among The Keys.


Guitar – Tal Farlow
Bass – Lynn Christie*
Drums – Bob Jaspe (tracks: 8)
Keyboards – Mike Nock