Vinyl Spotlight: Tal Farlow Quartet (Blue Note 5042) [Original 10″ Pressing]

Personnel:

  • Tal Farlow, guitar
  • Don Amone, guitar
  • Clyde Lombardi, bass
  • Joe Morello, drums

Recorded May 11, 1954 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey
Originally released August 1954

For Collectors

I don’t exactly remember what piqued my interest in this LP. I think it started when I came across a copy of Gil Melle Quintet, Volume 2. Tal Farlow is on that LP. I also think I was just getting into ten-inch LPs and Rudy Van Gelder’s earliest Hackensack recordings. This album is rare in any format. On Spotify there’s only one track buried in an obscure Farlow compilation, and only two tracks are readily available on YouTube. But the tracks I was able to preview sounded good so I sought the album out. White guys playing jazz guitar may have originally steered me clear of a record like this back when I was an ignorant novice collector, but I’m glad I got over my preconceptions and gave this album a chance.

I originally bid on a vinyl-only (no jacket) copy of this last summer on eBay. Though it was described EX, once I got it I only graded it strong VG. But I got such a good deal it didn’t matter (I did, however, politely share my opinion of the seller’s grading with them). Then last month, I caught the collecting bug (yet again), and in the midst of doing some virtual shopping I searched Discogs for a copy that might have a nice jacket. It turned out that the only copy for sale on there had VG vinyl and a VG+ jacket, and not only that, the seller’s store was a 20-minute bus ride away from me in Queens. So I headed out to Ridgewood that weekend and got the record at a discount. A couple weeks later I sold the vinyl from that copy to break even on what I originally paid for the first record, and universal balance had once again been restored.

I’d only grade this vinyl, the original vinyl, strong VG visually, and it has a few pops here and there but nothing repetitive so it is indeed a very strong VG; playback is VG+ for the most part — groove wear is rarer on records like these with quieter arrangements — and I’m very happy to have this record for the price I paid.

For Music Lovers

This is a gorgeous early Hackensack living room recording from April 1954, and additionally a unique quartet combo of two guitars, bass, and drums. It is also one of those rare records that I genuinely enjoy listening to from start to finish. The Farlow compositions (“Splash”, “Rock ‘N’ Rye”, “Tina”) are buoyant bits of songwriting. “Rock ‘N’ Rye” listens like a jazz song with a hook, and employs fun use of artificial reverb at the end to make it sound like Farlow and co-guitarist Don Amone are retreating to a cave to jam the night away whilst never abandoning their instruments. “Flamingo”, the record’s ballad, is a sweet tune where Farlow puts his virtuous playing down for a take, opting for some pretty, minimalist plucking. The album is cool and quiet but manages to remain generally upbeat and thus makes for good listening in a multitude of settings.

If you’re interested in owning a copy, a relatively rare United Artists ten-inch pressing from the ‘70s exists. Perhaps it will be a bit easier to acquire one of the Japanese Toshiba reissues from the ‘90s, either the twelve-inch or ten-inch version. Japan also reissued the album on CD. Unfortunately, my understanding is that all of these reissues embody some measure of master tape issues, but options are obviously limited to listen to this great music.