TALMAGE HOLT FARLOW's half-century career in jazz embodied the unusual. Born June 7, 1921 in Greensboro, North Carolina, he was supposed to grow up and become a textile plant worker like his father. Instead, he spent countless hours tuned in to remote radio broadcasts of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Coleman Hawkins. By the late 1940s, the polite, lanky boy with the massive hands had moved to New York after playing in dance and society bands down south. Tal's highly innovative style and unique sense of harmony soon established him as a vital link in the chain begin by the guitarist Charlie Christian. His work in the bands of Buddy DeFranco, Artie Shaw, and in the landmark Red Norvo Trio with Charles Mingus in the early 50s eventually launched him on a successful and much-heralded career as a leader, resulting in many international awards including Downbeat magazine's New Star of 1954. At the top of his form in 1958, Tal Farlow walked out of the limelight as suddenly as he'd walked ...