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Tal Farlow

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Biography

Nearly as famous for his reluctance to play as for his outstanding abilities, guitarist Tal Farlow did not take up the instrument until he was already 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 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. Late in 1958, Farlow settled on the East Coast, became a sign painter, and just played locally. He 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. Profiled in the definitive documentary Talmage Farlow, the guitarist can be heard on his own records for Blue Note (1954), Verve, Prestige (1969), and Concord. He died of cancer July 25, 1998, at age 77.

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