This title is part instructional video and part documentary film. Most of it occurs in the studio with Tal seated in front of the camera but there are some great moments filled with old photos of Tal and appearances by George Benson and Lenny Breau.
Tal was a wonderfully inventive player. His style was characterized by extreme technical fluidity, an advanced harmonic concept and strong sense of swing. His quiet and humble demeanor is quite a contrast to his fiery playing. This video ably shows all aspects of the man Tal was.
Topics covered include: swing rhythm playing, usage of the left hand thumb, harmonics and bebop playing.
Tal was a self taught player and not always the best source of analysis of his own style. However, this video and the accompanying booklet make all the examples clear. Tal spends his time playing through tunes and examples in his unique way: an organic approach that combines single line playing and chordal work. His playing is full of unexpected little gems and licks that you can quickly isolate and use for yourself. This is one of those tapes that you should just watch and learn. Tal is not with us anymore, and this is the best visual document of his playing we have. Serious students of Tal should have this title. Other jazz guitarists wil do no wrong by acquiring it. Recommended.
A film by Lorenzo DiStefano
This 1981 film is a charming, engaging look at Tal the man as well as the player. DiStefano opens the curtain to show us Tal when off the stage. We see him in his quiet New Jersey home, painting signs, hanging out on the back porch watching the boats go by. And he plays guitar a little bit too.
The camera follows Tal to New York to rehearse and perform with Tommy Flanagan and Red Mitchell in some revealing footage. We also see how Tal practiced at home, his views on the music scene and his life as a musician, and his decision to leave the club scene in the late fifties. One sparkling moment in the film occurs when Lenny Breau comes to visit Tal. The two sit in Tal's living room, trade licks and talk about guitar. This is a one-of-a-kind moment that culminates with the two of them perfoming at a local club that night (which made it onto the Chance Meeting CD).
The minimalist documentary approach to this film lets the viewer see Tal at his undiluted best. His recordings provide the soundtrack and the looks at old photos of his '50s heyday provide historical interest. This is the only film about a jazz guitarist that I know of and its a sensitive, fitting tribute to the giant of a man that Tal was. I enjoyed this film and so will you.