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January/February 2000

Various Artists
We Remember Tal: A Tribute to Tal Farlow
J Curve Records

Great guitarists young and old come together to pay tribute to one of the giants of jazz guitar. A labor of love by guitarist-producer Mark Elf, who burns a blue streak on "Move," turns wistful on "Isn't It Romantic" and offers a personal homage on his introspective "Miss You Tal," this all-star guitar summit meeting also features stunning six-string contributions from Randy Johnston, Peter Bernstein, Jack Wilkins and veterans Gene Bertoncini and Mundell Lowe.

Wilkins, Johnston, Bernstein and Lowe join together for a cascading harmonized romp through "Fascinating Rhythm," each taking a few swinging choruses along the way. Johnston offers his own take on Farlow's fleet-fingered brilliance on a chops-busting "Talology," then teams with Wilkins to explore that same uptempo territory on a burning rendition of the aptly-named Farlow signature piece, "Meteor."

Vibist Joe Locke appears on three numbers-"Move," "Talology" and "I Remember You"-recalling Farlow's connection to Red Norvo in the '40s. The most sublime moments here come on a lush reading of "Autumn in New York," which features a beautiful extended solo intro by Lowe before resolving to a lovely band treatment underscored by sensitive brushwork from Idris Muhammad and deep resonating basslines from Dennis Irwin. Lowe, the elder statesman of this session at 77, also turns in an exhilarating take of Farlow's classic "Gibson Boy" alongside Bernstein, the talented 31-year-old who plays with the taste and elegance of a seasoned vet.

Burnished tones and unadulterated swing by a bunch of world class pickers.

Originally published in January/February 2000
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