Great Guitars (Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow) | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Great Guitars (Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow)


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Don't even question it: buy your ticket, take your seat, and relax in the knowledge that even if two of them were inexplicably to forget how to play, you'd still get your money's worth. (The fret set already knows what to expect, so don't be surprised to find the place lousy with open-mouthed guitarists.) Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis, and Tal Farlow all came of musical age in the 50s--after first Charlie Christian and then Barney Kessel brought the electric guitar into the bebop family--and each has left his stamp on the music and the instrument. Byrd, the quietest of the group, played a solid if tamed brand of postbop before succumbing early on to the wiles of what is now called world music: it was Byrd, remember, who brought some then-new records back from his early-60s trip to Brazil and introduced Stan Getz to the bossa nova. Ellis may be the best known of the three, since he continues to match lightninglike lines with Oscar Peterson in occasional reunions of Peterson's original trio; his solos have a surface calm that often belies their furious propulsion, and he'll probably throw off the most sparks when the three trade riffs. For me, Farlow represents the best reason to attend this gig, if only because he so rarely appears in Chicago; hearing his uncluttered lines, quirky harmonies, subtle rhythmic displacements, and that oh-so-round tone gets you pretty close to jazz heaven. Friday and Saturday, 9 and 11 PM, Cotton Club, 1710 S. Michigan; 341-9787.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ty Chennault.

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