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Tal Farlow

Background information
Birth name Talmage Holt Farlow
Born June 7, 1921
Origin Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
Died July 25, 1998 (aged 77), New York City, New York
Genres Mainstream jazz, bebop, cool jazz
Occupations Guitarist, Sign Painter
Instruments Guitar
Associated acts Red Norvo, Artie Shaw

Talmage Holt Farlow (June 7, 1921 – July 25, 1998) was an American jazz guitarist.



Farlow was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1921. Nearly as famous for his reluctance to perform publicly as for his outstanding abilities, he did not take up the instrument until he was 21, but within a year was playing professionally and in 1948 was with Marjorie Hyams' band. While with the Red Norvo Trio (which originally included Charles Mingus) from 1949–1953, Farlow became famous in the jazz world. His huge hands and ability to play rapid yet light lines, which earned him the nickname "Octopus", made him one of the top guitarists of the era. After six months with Artie Shaw's Gramercy Five in 1953, Farlow put together his own group, which for a time included pianist Eddie Costa.

In 1958, Farlow retired from full-time performing and settled in Sea Bright, New Jersey, returning to a career as a sign painter. He continued to play occasional dates in local clubs, however.[1] His fame endured and in 1962 the Gibson Guitar Corporation, with Farlow's participation, produced the "Tal Farlow" model in their prestigious Artist Model line. The guitar seen in the picture at right is a prototype model. The production model has a mondolin type scroll at the top of the body.

Farlow only made one record as a leader during 1960–1975, but emerged a bit more often during 1976–1984, recording for Concord fairly regularly before largely disappearing again. He was profiled in the documentary film, Talmage Farlow, made in 1980/81. The guitarist can be heard on his own records for Blue Note (1954), Verve, Prestige (1969), and Concord. He died of cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City on July 25, 1998 at the age of 77.[2]


  • The Tal Farlow Quartet (1954; Blue Note)
  • The Tal Farlow Album (1954; Norgran)
  • The Artistry of Tal Farlow (1955; Norgran)
  • The Interpretations of Tal Farlow (1955; Norgran)
  • A Recital by Tal Farlow (1955; Norgran)
  • Swing Guitars (1955; Norgran)
  • Poppin' and Burnin' (1955; Verve)
  • Guitar Player (1974; Prestige)
  • Tal (1956; Norgran)
  • Fuerst Set (1956; Xanadu Records)
  • Second Set (1956; Xanadu)
  • Metronome All-Stars, 1956 Verve MGV 8030
  • The Swinging Guitar of Tal Farlow (1957; Verve)
  • This is Tal Farlow (1958; Verve)
  • The Guitar Artistry of Tal Farlow (1960; Verve)
  • Tal Farlow Plays the Music of Harold Arlen (1960; Verve)
  • The Return of Tal Farlow (1969; Prestige Records)
  • Trinity (1976; CBS Sony)
  • A Sign of the Times (1977; Concord)
  • Tal Farlow '78 (1978; Concord)
  • On Stage (1981; Concord)
  • Chromatic Palette (1981; Concord)
  • Cookin' on all Burners (1983; Concord)
  • The Legendary Tal Farlow (1985; Concord)
  • All Strings Attached (1987; JazzVisions)
  • Standards Recital (1993; FD Music)
  • Project G-5: A Tribute to Wes Montgomery (1993; Evidence Records)
  • Jazz Masters 41 Tal Farlow (1995; Verve)
  • Tal Farlow (1996; Giants of Jazz)
  • Chance Meeting (1997; Guitarchives Tal Farlow & Lenny Breau - Music from the Soundtrack of Talmage Farlow.)
  • Live at the Public Theatre (2000; Productions A-Propos The Tal Farlow Trio (with Tommy Flanagan & Red Mitchell - Music from the Soundtrack of Talmage Farlow.)
  • Tal Farlow's Finest Hour (2001; Verve)
  • Tal's Blues (2002; Past Perfect)
  • Two Guys with Guitars (2004; Frozen Sky Records)
  • The Complete Verve Tal Farlow Sessions (2004; Mosaic)


  1. ^ DeStefano, Lorenzo. Talmadge Farlow. Accessed July 3, 2008.
  2. ^ "Tal Farlow, 77, Jazz Guitarist Rooted in Bop", The New York Times, July 28, 1988. Accessed July 3, 2008.

External links



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