Lenny Breau


Test Pressing:

Album: Minors Aloud: Buddy Emmons with Lenny Breau


I have a vinyl test pressing of the album, Minors Aloud (released in 1978 by Flying Fish Records) which is an album by American steel guitarist Buddy Emmons and Canadian guitarist Lenny Breau. The album was recorded at Pete's Place, Nashville, on August 7 and 8, 1978 and released later that year.

 

The record is in mint condition and the disc has a blank label stamped

"Test Pressing" with the artist names side (A and B), album selection number FF-088 and a date (Jan 1/79) written in pen on the label (both sides). The anomaly is the album was released in 1978 yet the written label date is Jan/79...perhaps the anticipated release date.

 

The album jacket has the graphics of the album pasted on both sides in black and white.

I don't  know when or where I acquired the album but I don't actually have a copy of the released version of the album which is long out of print.


Lenny Breau is the undisputed champion of jazz fingerstyle guitar. The Breau sound and technique flawlessly blended jazz, country, blues and flamenco influences. Originally from Boston, Breau spent his younger years in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada perfecting his skills with his musician parent’s country band, Lone Pine and Betty Cody and at the age of fourteen was playing guitar in his parents’ band. After hearing Merle Travis and Chet Atkins, he adopted and further developed the difficult fingerstyle technique and adapted the style to his expanding interest in jazz and flamenco style guitar.


In 1959, Breau started playing with local jazz musicians and performed at Winnipeg venues until moving to Toronto to form the jazz trio ”Three” in 1962. The group performed mainly in Toronto, Ottawa and New York where they recorded a live album at the Village Vanguard and appeared on The Jackie Gleason and Joey Bishop national television shows. Breau also became a regular session musician for Canadian CBC Radio and television including CBC television’s Teenbeat, Music Hop as well as his own Lenny Breau Show.


In 1967, a tape of that latter show found its way to Chet Atkins who was immediately impressed with the musical talent and virtuosity of this polite, mild mannered man. Atkins was then head of RCA Nashville and related that he had never heard such great technique in so many different areas of music. That technique included the use of harmonics (actual not artificial harmonics) that Atkins had largely developed and Lenny pushed the envelope to an amazing degree. Atkins said that “ it was one of the greatest days of my life, the first day I heard Lenny”.


Recording Breau for RCA was, however, somewhat of a challenge. Lenny Breau was enduring the effects of alcohol and drug problems and although he was very fast in the studio, getting him to the scheduled sessions was sometimes difficult.  The result of these sessions was the 1968 release of RCA’s Guitar Sounds From Lenny Breau. In 1969, RCA released The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau which was recorded at Shelly’s Manne-Hole in Hollywood. The albums were not commercially successful and Breau returned to live club work for a protracted period of time. In 1978, Breau teamed up with steel guitarist Buddy Emmons to release Minors Aloud (Flying Fish label) and in 1979 Five O’Clock Bells (Adelphi Records).


A re-union with Chet Atkins resulted in The Legendary Lenny Breau (Sound Hole, 1979) and Lenny Breau Trio (Adelphi). After a few years of recording Breau when he was in Nashville, RCA released Standard Brands in 1981whichfeatured a wonderful collection of Atkins and Breau duets.  


On August 12, 1984 Lenny’s body was discovered in a swimming pool at his residence in Los Angeles, California. The coroner reported that he had been strangled and the case remains unsolved.

For additional information about Lenny Breau, reference www.lennybreau.com.


Paul Blissett