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a film by Lorenzo DeStefano

Talmage Holt Farlow's half-century career in jazz embodied the unusual.  Born June 7, 1921 in Greensboro, North Carolina, he was supposed to grow up and become a textile plant worker like his father.  Instead, he spent countless hours tuned-in to remote radio broadcasts of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Coleman Hawkins.

By the late 1940's, the polite, lanky boy with the massive hands had moved to New York after playing in dance and society bands down South.  Tal's highly innovative style and unique sense of harmony soon established him as a vital link in the chain begun by Charlie Christian.  His work in the bands of Buddy DeFranco, Artie Shaw, and in the landmark Red Norvo Trio with Charles Mingus eventually landed him on a successful and much-heralded career as a leader.

farlow poster large.jpg (52597 bytes)At the top of his form in 1958, Tal Farlow walked out of the limelight as suddenly as he'd walked into it less than ten years before.  People wondered where he'd vanished to.  Had he cracked up?  Was he sick of the jazz scene?  Farlow put it more succinctly.  "It didn't suit my temperament, I guess."

Settling in the coastal town of Sea Bright, New Jersey, the guitarist returned to his old trade as a sign painter.  His "disappearance" turned him into a living legend for generations of players and fans.  You could still hear him from time to time into the early eighties in clubs and restaurants along the Jersey Shore.  His most loyal listeners found him but press attention was scarce.

In addition to showcasing Tal's music, this film explores his reasons for choosing a different kind of life for himself.  After its original release in 1981, Tal found himself in demand again, venturing far from Sea Bright on international tours and in appearances throughout the States.  He painted fewer signs than before, played more music.  He could even see Manhattan from his porch on certain days, though he still seemed to prefer the rhythms of small-town life.  Since his death on July 25, 1998, his place among the great innovators of modern jazz seems well assured.  Constantly searching, refining, experimenting, Tal Farlow was more than just a great musician.  His patient struggle to find a balance between artistic excellence and peace of mind is the real story behind Talmage Farlow.

Lorenzo DeStefano, Producer/Director.

"Farlow with DeStefano, Sea Bright, New Jersey, 1980".

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"Click on text to read reviews of "Talmage Farlow" from the New York Times and Sight and Sound magazine."


(the following review is from jazz guitar on line, March 1999)

Talmage Farlow

A film by Lorenzo DeStefano



This 1981 film is a charming, engaging look at Tal the man as well as the player. DeStefano opens the curtain to show us Tal when off the stage. We see him in his quiet New Jersey home, painting signs, hanging out on the back porch watching the boats go by. And he plays guitar a little bit too.

The camera follows Tal to New York to rehearse and perform with Tommy Flanagan and Red Mitchell in some revealing footage. We also see how Tal practiced at home, his views on the music scene and his life as a musician, and his decision to leave the club scene in the late fifties. One sparkling moment in the film occurs when Lenny Breau comes to visit Tal. The two sit in Tal's living room, trade licks and talk about guitar. This is a one-of-a-kind moment that culminates with the two of them perfoming at a local club that night (which made it onto the Chance Meeting CD).

The minimalist documentary approach to this film lets the viewer see Tal at his undiluted best. His recordings provide the soundtrack and the looks at old photos of his '50s heyday provide historical interest. This is the only film about a jazz guitarist that I know of and its a sensitive, fitting tribute to the giant of a man that Tal was. I enjoyed this film and so will you.



Two soundtrack recordings are available from this feature documentary.  "Chance Meeting", featuring TAL FARLOW AND LENNY BREAU  and the TAL FARLOW TRIO "Live at the Public Theater and the Penthouse Session."

Includes the following:
Topsy, Flamingo, Longhorn Blues, Stardust, Smooth As The Wind, Jordu, Posthorn Blues, My Foolish Heart, Fascinating Rhythm, I Hear A Rhapsody, East End Avenue.

This CD captures all the magic of the Tal Farlow Trio in a live performance at New York's Public Theater featuring Tal, Tommy Flanagan and Red Mitchell.  Bonus tracks feature the trio in "The Penthouse Session."


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Chance Meeting includes the following:
I Love You, Satin Doll, My Funny Valentine, All The Things You Are, Conversation (Tal & Lenny), Cherokee, What Is This Thing Called Love?, Broadway, My Foolish Heart.

"This CD, an indirect result of the film documentary on Tal, is an amazing newfound jewel. During the film, Lenny Breau makes a visit to Tal's Sea Bright, N.J. home. The duo start jamming and visiting and Tal invites Lenny to join him at his local gig that night. What resulted was some unbelievably fiery playing. The musical explorations and conversations were of the highest artistic order." - a review by jazz guitar online

Click here to order this CD for $24.00 including shipping.