Thursday, January 8, 2015

The 1956 Trio Recordings of Tal Farlow

Tal Farlow with Vinnie Burke (bass) and Eddie Costa (piano).
If you read my Blog regularly you know 50s Tal is my main man. In the mid 1950s Tal was at his peak. At the time he was the fastest bebop gun in town and he was - IMHO - leading his finest group ever with pianist Eddie Costa and bassist Vinnie Burke. A drummerless trio that swung hard and showcased marvellous and inspired interplay between Tal and Eddie Costa.

Earlier in 1956, Costa and Burke had joined Tal Farlow, forming a resident trio to play at the Composer, a club on West 58th Street in New York.. The trio stayed together, recording several albums under Farlow's name, until, in 1958, the Composer closed.

Listening to these recordings, there is little doubt that, at the time, Tal was the Charlie Parker of the guitar and Eddie's hard swinging, driving style on the piano was a perfect match. Chamber bop at its best!

Tal on his ES 350
In 1956, Tal recorded three albums with this trio that really stand out in guitar history. They also feature some of the most archetypal bebop guitar sounds ever recorded. At the time Tal was playing a modified Gibson ES 350 that sounded perfect  for his fast bebop lines. Dry, woody and punchy, his sound contrats nicely with Eddie's fierce piano playing. These classic TF albums have always been a huge inspiration to me. After years of listening to them, I even bought myself a Gibson Tal Farlow model ... a great signature guitar based on Tal's mid 50s ES 350. I have written about it here.

The first album with this trio I would like to mention  is the album "Tal." What a guitar sound! Listen to "How About You." For details on this album check out the link in blue.

And then there is that great, great album "The Swinging Guitar of Tal Farlow." It was recorded in 1956 too but released a year later. Probably Tal's most classic album and .... my favorite TF Album of all time. Here's Tal original off that album called "Meteor", a tune based on the changes of "Confirmation." "The Swinging Guitar" is a must have classic 50s guitar bop album.

The first one

The last 1956 album I would like to mention is "The Complete Private Recordings", a lofi mono session recorded at the NY appartment of a jazz fan called Ed Fuerst. Though the sound quality is so so, the  interplay is superb. If they had recorded it at a studio, it might have been even better than "The Swinging Guitar Of Tal Farlow." Here's "All the Things You Are" off that album.


  1. Thanks for posting this Dutch. Tal was the man! Your comment on Tal being the Charlie Parker of his time is spot on. I knew Tal personally. I was introduced to him by my jazz guitar instructor Vinny Corrao .. quite a jazz guitarist himself. He often performed in duo with Tal. The only things greater than Tal's guitar skills and talents, were his demeanor and his personality. He was a wonderful man. RIP.

  2. Tal was at his best in the '50's. Really captured Parker's fire on the guitar. The only other players at the time that i know of that can be compared are Jimmy Raney, Billy Bean and Ronnie Singer.

    Though Jimmy in the '50's wasn't a match for Tal's fire ... but fast forward 20 years to Jimmy's Live in Tokyo in 1976 and listen to his version of How 'Bout You ... smokin

    they were all great and american treasures ...

  3. Spot on !
    As an obsessive Tal Farlow fan I just can agree with you.
    He clearly is praised for his skills, but never enough for his tone (mid 50s) which to me is the Grail of Jazz guitar tone, way before Wes smoking L5 or even Pass' Joy Spring.
    Great that you mentioned the Ed Fuerst Set because I think despite being poor quality still shows how great Tal's tone and skill were at the time.

  4. Choi co tuong online trên web GameBai.Net để thử sức với nhiều cao thủ. Giao lưu học hỏi với nhiều bạn bè yêu thích đánh co tuong trực tuyến.