American jazz guitarist Tal Farlow was born Talmage Holt Farlow on June 7, 1921. He passed away on July 25, 1998. He was nicknamed the Octopus because of how fast his fingers spread over the fretboard in clusters of single note runs. His musical presence was indeed the equivalent of Roger Bannister’s breaking of the four minute mile only with a whole lot more harmonically rich tones accompanying the pace.
Farlow was an innovative self taught guitarist who started off by learning chord melodies on a mandolin tuned like a ukulele. This resulted in a style in which he used the four higher strings to for melody and chords while playing a counterpoint bassline with his thumb on the two lower strings. Other signature styles were his use of artificial harmonics and tapping his guitar creating a snare drum like sound on some songs while creating a hollow sounding backbeat on other songs.
His public career started in 1949 in a trio with Red Norvo and Charles Mingus. Next in 1953, he was in Artie Shaw’s Gramercy Five. Two years later he was in his own trio with Vinnie Burke and Eddie Costa.
The Swinging Guitar of Tal Farlow was released in 1957. it is an album that amply demonstrates true jazz mastery. As such, Aloha Promises Forever rates this album a nine out of 10. His fluid yet precise lines accompanied by his percussive tapping goes down as smooth as a mellow conversation over morning coffee.
You may listen to The Swinging Guitar of Tal Farlow here: