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Tal Farlow and Lenny Breau: Chance Meeting

The auspicious meeting that this album’s title refers to took place for the PBS documentary Talmage Farlow in 1980. While Farlow’s stature in the annals of jazz guitar goes without saying, the justification for separately issuing the soundtrack some 17 years later is the untimely 1984 demise of Breau, a circumstance that left him drastically under recorded, considering his unique, innovative approach to the instrument.

The mutual admiration between the players is obvious throughout the nine impromptu performances, which were recorded at a New Jersey club. On “Satin Doll” the participants freely exchange roles; at points, Breau improvises single-note lines and comps chord fragments at the same time (one of his innovative trademarks), while Farlow gets in some characteristic long fluid runs. “All The Things You Are” begins tentatively, but soon grooves to firm underpinning provided by drummer Nat Garratano and bassist Lyn Christie, while the quartet burns its way through “Cherokee,” which features virtuosic solos by Breau and Farlow. The set concludes with a sensitive reading of “My Foolish Heart” that gives both guitarists a chance to display their respective approaches to harmonics. More than sophisticated chordal structures and harmonics, the thing that these two geniuses-a generation apart-really have in common is the music, which eloquently speaks for itself.

Originally Published