Cultural Percussionist

Lenny Breau Day

Leonard Harold Breau (August 5, 1941 – August 12, 1984) was an American-born guitarist and music educator. Breau blended many styles of music, including jazz, country, classical, and flamenco. Inspired by country guitarists like Chet Atkins, Breau used fingerstyle techniques not often used in jazz guitar. By using a seven-string guitar and approaching the guitar like a piano, he opened up possibilities for the instrument.

Breau was born August 5, 1941, in Auburn, Maine, but moved with his family to Moncton, New Brunswick in 1948.

Around 1959 Breau left his parents’ country band after his father slapped him in the face for incorporating jazz improvisation into his playing with the group. He sought out local jazz musicians, performing at Winnipeg venues Rando Manor and the Stage Door. He met pianist Bob Erlendson, who began teaching him more of the foundations of jazz. In 1962, Breau left for Toronto and created the jazz group Three with singer and actor Don Francks, and Eon Henstridge on acoustic bass.

Three performed in Toronto, Ottawa, and New York City. Their music was featured in the 1962 National Film Board documentary Toronto Jazz. They recorded a live album at the Village Vanguard in New York City and appeared on the Jackie Gleason and Joey Bishop television shows. Returning to Winnipeg, Breau became a session guitarist, recording for CBC Radio and CBC Television, and contributed to CBC-TV’s Teenbeat, Music Hop, and his own The Lenny Breau Show.

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