Tal Farlow is a legend to any Jazz fan. He was the guitar player in the Fifties before Wes became king. He’s still the favorite player of lots of Jazz guitarists. If you don’t believe that, just check out the interview with George Benson on this video. This production basically has a very relaxed Tal showing you some of his favorite licks and techniques. It’s a wonderful way to add some licks to your playing, whether or not you’re a Jazzer. The accompanying book highlights all of what he shows on his 1962 Gibson Tal Farlow guitar. Above all else, it’s a sheer joy to watch Tal play guitar. He’s a master, and even if you learn nothing from the video (highly unlikely), you’ll be fascinated by his playing.
There’s a nice montage of photos of Tal during the Fifties along with music by him and Red Norvo and Charles Mingus in the Red Norvo Trio. He also spends a good deal of time explaining his influences and style. He is self-taught and tells us that’s why he sometimes uses his thumb to play on strings five and six. He covers how to play Blues, the use of tritones, chromatic movement, and in a really nifty demonstration, how to play an entire solo in harmonics.
There is also a clip of the late guitarist Lenny Breau visiting Tal at home during the Seventies. That’s quickly followed by the two playing at a local club. Fascinating stuff, both from a historic and musical standpoint. Guitar collectors will want to see the last ten minutes. Especially where Tal shows us his “little baby”. All in all, a great video. You can write to Hot Licks at P.O. Box 337, Pound Ridge, New York 10576.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’96 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.