12/11/03

Early Lenny Breau Sessions Unearthed

Fans of the late guitarist Lenny Breau can slap another disc onto their holiday wish lists; Art of Life Records has released a new disc of early and previously unreleased Breau tracks titled The Hallmark Sessions.

Breau was a seriously singular guitarist, the kind that can make other, insecure guitarists jealous as all hell. He could play chords and solo simultaneously—and he’d do it so effortlessly you’d believe he’d been doing it ever since he popped out of his momma. His improvisations were pieces of outside-the-box magic that mixed elements of jazz, country, rock and classical music that, amazingly, didn’t sound contrived.

Art of Life dug the tapes that produced The Hallmark Sessions from out behind a bunch of wine racks (no joke), where they’d been hiding for 40 years or so. The tapes contain Breau’s first recording session, made at Hallmark Studios in Toronto, Canada on November 28, 1961. Breau was only 20 years old at the time, but the album’s producers say that even at that young age he breezed through the eclectic set of jazz standards, country & western numbers and flamenco tunes without rehearsals or interruptions.

Seven of the tracks on The Hallmark Sessions feature bassist Rick Danko and drummer Levon Helm and the other six tracks are solo guitar pieces. The folks at Art of Life had everything mastered in 24-bit digital and have also been kind enough to include the stereo mixes of the trio pieces as bonus tracks. You can listen to clips from some of Hallmark’s tunes at www.artofliferecords.com. Here’s the full track list:

1. It Could Happen To You

2. Oscar's Blues

3. I'll Remember April

4. Undecided

5. My Old Flame

6. 'D' Minor Blues

7. 'R' Tune

8. Lenny's Western Blues

9. Cannonball Rag

10. Solea

11. Taranta

12. Arabian Fantasy

13. Brazilian Love Song (Batucada)

14. Oscar's Blues *

15. I'll Remember April *

16. Undecided *

17. My Old Flame *

18. 'D' Minor Blues *

19. 'R' Tune *

* Bonus Track. Stereo Version.

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