“Talmage Farlow” A Film Documentary by Lorenzo DeStefano
(This review will be in the next issue of J.J.G)
It’s hard to believe that any self-respecting jazz guitar lover has not seen this documentary by Lorenzo DeStefano, which was released on video in 1981. It has now come to DVD as all great videos finally do. This is a must if you’ve never seen it, as it shows Tal Farlow in a very natural setting at his home in Sea Bright, with some wonderful photos of his early career. George Benson, Red Norvo, Jimmy Lyon and others talk about Tal, which makes this film very special. The so-called Tal “retirement” is rather humorous, as Tal never stopped playing at any time of his life. The footage of Tal, Red Mitchell, and Tommy Flanagan rehearsing is priceless. The photos are a real treat for those who never saw Tal in person. Also fascinating is the footage of New York City from that time so you can see what it was like back then.
The amazing Lenny Breau is shown here playing with Tal at Tal’s Sea Bright home outside on the patio with the river flowing by. They also share a nice give-and-take conversation. The scene then cuts very cleverly to a club nearby as the two engage in some wild exchanges on “I Love You.”
One of the highlights of the film is the concert at the Public Theatre in New York. Red Mitchell and Tommy Flanagan are in top form.
Another fascinating part of the film is watching Tal do his sign painting. He seemed to do everything well that he put his mind to.
There is much to love about this film and the man. Tal Farlow was a genuine jazz giant, a unique individual and a very likable man. The new footage is interesting, with Lenny Breau outtakes, some different photos, and Dr. Lynn Cristie playing bass. The footage of Lenny Breau, as good as it is, has some flaws in that the video drops out at times. I personally like it, however, as it does have a dialogue between Tal and Lenny that is interesting for anyone who might want to eavesdrop on a moment in jazz guitar history. It also has some good footage of Tal and Lenny in the club in New Jersey as Tal plays a fantastic solo on “My Funny Valentine.”
If you don’t have this DVD, be sure to get it! It’s an essential part of any guitarist’s library.
Jack Wilkins 2006
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Review "Talmage Farlow" DVD