Lenny Breau album

LA Bootleg 1984


Painted in WaterlogueNew York and Nashville may be 1200 kilometres apart, but they were fused together by the hands of guitarist Lenny Breau. Breau, who was murdered in 1984, grew up playing in his parents’ country-and-western band until his father slapped him for incorporating jazz improvisation. Thereafter he embarked on a career that revolutionised guitar technique by marrying country picking skills with jazz harmony and improvisation. He also had a custom-made seven-string guitar, the additional string (a high “A”) extending the instrument’s upper register.

The combination of his deft right-hand picking and this augmented range made him the most pianistic of jazz guitarists. But to talk just about how he played is to miss the effect: his ability to harmonically colour his own lines; lines that flare into improbably elevated, silvery notes on that extra string.

This is newly-discovered live recording (of standards) comes from the year of his death. With him are bassist Paul Gormley and drummer Ted Hawk who, good as they are, are not quite in Breau’s extraordinary league.