Talmadge Farlow (1981)

by | May 25, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Talmadge Farlow  (1981)

Director: Lorenzo DeStefano
Studio: MVD Music Video
Video: 4:3 full screen, color
Audio: Dolby Digital

Regional coding: None
Extras: Photo gallery, Tune outtakes
Length: 59 minutes 
Rating: ***1/2  

Tal Farlow was a pioneer as a jazz guitarist, and yet had no regrets about largely leaving the New York jazz scene for a life spent in Sea Bright, New Jersey. Tal’s other profession – that of a sign painter – sounds rather mundane, but to hear Tal describe the art of sign painting and watching him at work at his craft shows an artist improvising with color, letter motifs, and shapes leading to a finished product such as a musician completing his latest composition.

Yet Tal never really left the music scene, making brief forays into small clubs and an occasional visit into the big city scene. This documentary was originally released in 1981, and Tal’s fans interest in this solitary artist helped him venture out on recording dates. On this DVD Tal plays in a trio with Tommy Flanagan, and Red Mitchell. He also has a pleasant jam with guitarist Lenny Breau at his Sea Bright home.

In addition to the interviews with Farlow and his playing of songs including Autumn in New York, Flamingo, Jordu, and I Hear a Rhapsody, this DVD issue includes over an hour of extras including a photo gallery and song outtakes.

Sound quality is average and no better than one would expect from a 1981 issue documentary, but it is not for audiophile sound that one would purchase this DVD. It would be for a fascinating glimpse into a jazz genius that lead his life his own way, having the confidence to walk away from the limelight to live the life of a contented artist on his own terms and at his own pace. Farlow passed away in July 1998. The recent issue of a Mosaic boxed set as well as Verve label CD reissues of his 1950s-era LPs have reignited interest in this jazz guitar pioneer. This DVD would make a nice addition for the legions of Talmadge Farlow fans – those who admire a man who truly did it “his way.”

— Jeff Krow

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