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Lenny Breau: Master Class

If the consensus is that Lenny Breau was recorded inconsistently and not enough, then the paucity of video footage of the late guitar virtuoso seems almost criminal. In any case, Breau fanatics must take what they can get: This 47-minute program, recorded in 1982 at a master class at the University of Southern California, is technologically akin to the dusty VHS documents of Christmas past that clutter your basement. Nonetheless, it’s probably the last known footage of Breau taken before his death and the latest Rosetta Stone for the guitarist’s cult.

In the charismatically bashful demeanor he was known for, Breau spends his near-hour with the students playing tunes, taking questions and demo-ing techniques, just as he’d done over the decades for anyone who’d ask. The performances show how Breau played with stunning virtuosity wherever and whenever: The atmosphere here couldn’t be more off the cuff, and Breau debuts his custom-built, brand-new (and unfamiliar) Kirk Sand seven-string guitar. (Sand is also the cameraman, and he’s wise enough not to play director. The few static shots used throughout work just fine.)

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