Tal Farlow

Autumn Leaves

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During the 1950s, Tal Farlow recorded a wonderful series of albums that established him as one of the premiere bop/cool guitarists. He recorded less frequently in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, preferring to stay out of the limelight. Autumn Leaves consists of two discs Farlow recorded for Concord: Tal Farlow '78 and The Legendary Tal Farlow (1985). When a great player like Farlow revives his career 20 years later, it seems customary, though a bit impolite, to ask: can he play as well as he once could? The easy answer is yes, he plays with the same finesse and speed (though it's hard to tell: his fingers move extremely fast), but this should be qualified by noting that his overall approach has mellowed during the interval. On the first disc Farlow is joined by bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and drummer Tom Sayek for a straight-ahead trio set. Ballads ("Here's That Rainy Day" and "Autumn Leaves") and barnburners ("Mahoney's 11 Ohms" and "With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair") get equal billing, which means the album goes down like a perfectly balanced glass of red wine. The trio grows to a quintet on The Legendary Tal Farlow, with special notice going to flutist/tenor saxophonist Sam Most. Most's flute work injects an airy presence into "You Stepped Out of a Dream" and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," while also working as a nice counter voice to Farlow's guitar. The two satisfying sets on Autumn Leaves offer over 80 minutes of modern jazz played with elegance and style.

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