Lenny Breau

Leonard Harold “Lenny”, Breau, August 5, 1941 -August 12, 1984, was a musician, guitarist player, and music teacher. Breau was well-known for his ability to blend many musical styles, including jazz, country and classical, as well as flamenco and flamenco. Breau was inspired by Chet Atkins and other country guitarists. He used fingerstyle techniques that were not common in jazz guitar. Breau was born in Auburn, Maine, on August 5, 1941. His francophone parents, Harold Lone Pine Breau and Betty Cody (nee Cote), are professional western and country musicians. They performed and recorded between the mid-1930s and (in Hal Breau’s instance) the mid-1970s. They played summer engagements in New Brunswick, Canada from the mid-to late 1940s. Their performances were advertised by free programs on CKCW Moncton. Their son started playing guitar when he was eight years old. He started a small band at the age of twelve with his friends. By the time he turned fourteen, he was the leader guitarist in “Lone Pine Junior”, the band he played Merle Travis and Chet Akins songs and sometimes singing. Breau recorded his first professional recordings at Westbrook, Maine in 1995. He was 15 years old and working as a studio musician. Many of these recordings were later released on a CD appropriately named Boy Wonder. In 1957, the Breau family moved from Quebec to Winnipeg. Their new band, the CKY Caravan, performed all over the province and city. They broadcast their shows live from remote locations on Saturday mornings on Winnipeg’s CKY. Randy Bachman was 16 years old at the time and was a regular listener. Bachman rode to the Caravan concert in West Kildonan and met Breau. Breau and Bachman quickly became close friends. Breau began to teach Bachman informally, which has been described as “…the start of my life as an electric guitar player. After his father made a slap on him for performing jazz improvisations on stage in his country band, Lenny Breau quit the group and began looking for local jazz musicians. He performed at Winnipeg venues such as the “Rando Manor”, and the “Stage Door” in 1959. Bob Erlendson was his pianist and began to teach him the basics of jazz. Breau moved to Toronto in 1962 and quickly formed the jazz band Three with Don Francks, an actor, and Eon Henstridge, an acoustic basse player. Three performed in Toronto and New York City. Their music was featured on the 1962 National Film Board documentary Toronto Jazz. They recorded a live album at Village Vanguard in New York City, and also appeared on US-network television’s Joey Bishop and Jackie Gleason shows. Breau returned to Winnipeg and became a regular session guitar player recording for CBC Radio, CBC Television and CBC Television. He also contributed to CBC-TV’s Teenbeat, Music Hop and his own Lenny Breau show. Many Canadians still associate Breau’s jazz with the sound of CBC during the sixties. Breau was a guest at David Ingram’s Fourth Dimension, 2000 Pembina Highway, Fort Garry (a suburb of Winnipeg) in 1963 and 1964. Every Sunday night, there was a free hootenany. On Sunday Nights, Neil Young and his band were also regulars with Rick Honey (Vancouver CKNW) as his drummer. Breau’s matured technique combined Travis’ and Atkins’ fingerpicking with Sabicas-influenced flamenco. It was highlighted by exceptional right-hand independence as well as flurries artificial harmonics. His harmonic sensibilities were a mixture of country roots, jazz, Indian and modal music, especially Bill Evans’. Chet Atkins had obtained recordings of Breau’s performance on The Lenny Breau Show in 1967. Breau’s two first LP issues, Guitar Sounds From Lenny Breau u0026 The Velvet Touch Of Lenny Breau, were the result of their friendship. Live! RCA. He spent his time in Canada until 1976, when he moved to the United States. The next few years were spent moving between Nashville and Stockton in Maine, Stockton in California, New York City, and finally settling in Los Angeles in 1982. These years were filled with teaching and performing as well as writing for Guitar Player magazine. He had two custom 7-string electric and classical guitars made during this period. There was no manufacturer that made strings that could be tuned to the B tuning on Lenny’s classical guitar. Lenny used the right gauge fishing line until La Bella started making strings for him. [citation needed] He only released a few solo albums, as well as albums with Buddy Spicher, a fiddler, and Buddy Emmons, a pedal steel guitarist. Breau suffered from drug addiction since the mid-1960s. He managed to control his problems in the final years of life. His body was discovered in the swimming pool of his Los Angeles apartment complex on August 12, 1984. According to the coroner, he was strangled. Jewel Breau, his wife, was the main suspect in the case. However, she was not charged with the murder of Breau and the case remains unsolved. Since Breau’s death, many recordings of live and “lost”, have been released. Reissues of his studio recordings are also available. A whole new generation of listeners can now enjoy his music thanks to the efforts of Randy Bachman of Guitarchives and Paul Kohler of Art of Life Records, among others. Breau’s daughter Emily Hughes produced a documentary called The Genius Of Lenny Breau in 1999. The documentary features interviews with Chet atkins, Ted Greene and Pat Metheny as well as relatives such as George Benson, Leonard Cohen and George Benson. Ron Forbes-Roberts’ One Long Tune: Lenny Breau’s Life and Music (University of North Texas Press 2006), is the definitive work about Breau. The book features a detailed analysis of Breau’s music as well as a comprehensive discography of all his recordings. Nearly 200 people were interviewed. CBC Radio presented a documentary-soundscape on Lenny Breau entitled “On the Trail of Lenny Breau” (the title is in reference to Breau’s parent’s song “On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine”). It was broadcast for the first time on September 13, 2009, as part of the Inside the Music weekly program. Leny’s son Chet Breau narrated it. John Klepko produced the one-hour feature in Montreal. From Wikipedia

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