Thursday, 5 May 2011

Classic Song 40 - Lenny Breau "Toronto"

Let's talk about classic music.

Let's talk about Lenny Breau.

When I was a kid, my brother Gord used to play a song
he wrote with his buddy, Joe Irving. Entitled "Firelight
Fairytale", Gord's song featured Joe's vocal and lyric,
to be sure, but the tune's magic came from the style
of acoustic guitar playing and chording that my 
big brother said was inspired by Lenny Breau, 
whom I'd never even heard - or heard of. 

In 1972, I first travelled to Toronto, as one of
200 young, Canadian school kids who were
chosen to attend a 2 week-long conference 
at Newtonbrook Secondary School, in 
beautiful northern Toronto. All
the students were also asked 
to take in a few shows,
including a concert at
the famed Massey 
Hall, featuring
The Toronto

So there I was, in the third row of the stage 
left balcony, waiting for the orchestra to 
begin their program, when, over the 
house PA system, I heard this 
announcement: "And now, 
ladies and gentlemen, 
The Lenny Breau Trio".

Over the polite audience applause, one most likely 
could have heard me exclaiming "Lenny Breau!"
to those around me. I had no idea he was going
to perform before the TSO, so my surprised
outburst was simultaneous with the sight of
 Lenny and his two band mates, waving to
the crowd as they walked to their setup,
which consisted of an upright bass and
a small kit of drums, as well as what
looked to me like a Fender Twin
Reverb amplifier... and Lenny's
six string guitar on a stand.

Once the trio was ready, he leaned into his
microphone and said "We'd like to start 
with a little number I call "Tu-ning".

What followed was a sunshower of guitar 
harmonics, unlike anything I'd ever heard. 

From that moment, until the end of their set,
I was suspended in some kind of out-of-body
universe, where all that mattered was Lenny's
incredible guitar mastery, performed in perfect 
sympathy with his two equally adept sidemen.

Time seemed to stand still, as I osmosed every
nuance that Lenny and his mates coaxed from
their complex, simply astounding repertoire.

I have no recollection of anything the Toronto
Symphony Orchestra played, although I assume
it was a stellar, world class classical performance.

All I remember, to this very day, is how
profoundly Lenny Breau's inimitable 
performance influenced me, and
gave me a dazzling glimpse 
into the rarefied world of 
guitar playing mastery.

Ladies and gentlemen,
may I present to you
Lenny Breau, solo!

But first, warm your hands over the fire.

Mozz the Elder

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