Lenny Breau: Georgia on My Mind


Georgia on My Mind


Lenny Breau (guitar)


Live at Donte's (String Jazz 1008)

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Lenny Breau (guitar), Dick Berk (drums),

Ray Neopolitan (bass)


Composed by Hoagy Carmichael & Stuart Gorrell


Recorded: Donte's, Los Angeles, May 1969


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

With his prepossessing looks, a winning personality, and a larger-than-life talent, Lenny Breau had all the ingredients for stardom. Moreover, he came of age just when guitar was starting to dominate popular entertainment, and Breau's commanding technique and expansive conception should have earned him a place at the top of the music world. He could play in a wide range of styles, and although the jazz world claimed him as its own, his performances drew on elements of everything from country to classical. This version of "George on My Mind" from a live date at Donte's shows how far Breau could push a familiar pop tune. From the opening bars, he is reconfiguring the harmonies, drawing on a sound palette more akin to Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock than your typical guitar stylings. His single-note lines push up against the limits of the changes; then, around the midpoint of his solo, he superimposes a fast waltz beat, and seems intent on forcing a "Bluesette" mood onto the Hoagy Carmichael tune. Finally, Breau shifts gears again, and as the piece draws to a close he develops a stunning counterpoint on the guitar that sounds like two musicians trading phrases. Long after his death in 1984, at age 43, this player still seems ahead of the times.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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