The Jazz Style of Tal Farlow

As reviewed by Bob Patterson

This book is one of Hal Leonard's Artist Series titles. The subtitle is "Elements of Bebop Guitar" and the book lives up to the title. Author Steve Rochinksi does an excellent job laying out Tal's approach to improvisation. The book is broken down into sections and each facet is dissected in detail using easy to follow graphics.

Rochinksi went to a great deal of research for this book. I met Steve at a guitar clinic in Lousiville, KY in 1993 while he was writing the book. He was using material from the book in the lessons as well as transcriptions from important early Tal recordings.

Steve pays attention to the subtlest aspects of Tal's technique such as artificial harmonics, double stops and bongo effects. He also discusses how Tal's large hands and the shorter scale length of his guitar allowed him an enormous reach on the fretboard.

Tal's harmonic language is examined in detail. Rochinksi looks at how Tal bases his lines on standard chord shapes (an approach also taken by Charlie Christian) and how Tal takes "standard" bebop licks and adds his own spin. In fact, Rochinksi finds several "Tal" licks within the body of his recordings and analyzes them.

The tune transcriptions are analyzed in detail, giving the reader the inside formula Tal uses to build his solos. The music graphics and typesetting are superb, making it very easy to follow the information.

This book shows a high level of research and musical understanding. The fact that Rochinksi is a theory and composition teacher at Berklee should say something. If you want to find out about Tal's playing, this is the book you need.

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