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SombraDuende

 

Posts: 24
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Lenny Breau 

Hi,

I was wondering what you flamenco aficionado's think of Lenny Breau? How do you rate him as a player? And how do you rate his level of flamenco playing, for example his Taranta on the Guitar Sounds album?

I think Lenny's one of the all time greats and I love how he was able to blend so many different styles into a beautiful sound. But I always wondered what flamenco lovers think of Lenny's playing and especially his flamenco influence...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 18:47:19
 
Mark2

Posts: 1453
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

Great player but not a flamenco. He certainly listened to flamenco, and studied some, but I don't hear his flamenco experience as being very deep, at least from what I've heard, including the recording you mentioned. But that's based strictly on what I've heard him play, which doesn't come close to all he's recorded. I don't know his personal history.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 19:18:32
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

I think he basically learned all his flamenco from listening to a Sabicas record. He never really played pure flamenco, but mixed it in with the jazz and country things he did. He did record some taranta's, like the one I mentioned.. There's also another tune called Spanjazz..
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 19:22:44
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 19:25:17
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

He talks about his influences including flamenco in this clip:

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 19:27:49
 
Mark2

Posts: 1453
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

I don't know what flamencos think of people outside flamenco drawing from it. I'd imagine Miles gets the nod but Ottmar and his ilk probably not. Just a guess.


quote:

ORIGINAL: SombraDuende

I think he basically learned all his flamenco from listening to a Sabicas record. He never really played pure flamenco, but mixed it in with the jazz and country things he did. He did record some taranta's, like the one I mentioned.. There's also another tune called Spanjazz..
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 19:33:21
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

This is the full documentary. A great watch in my opinion. He talks a bit about flamenco and "breaking the rules". He plays a bit of flamenco around the 5:15 mark:

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 19:34:39
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

If Paco de Lucia can be influenced by jazz music I see no reason why jazz musicians or any other kind of musician can't or shouldn't be influenced by flamenco...

In the end it's all music. Nobody owns flamenco in my opinion. I think the gypsies had a big part in the creation of flamenco music and they were influenced by many styles of music from many different places...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 19:45:35
 
Leñador

Posts: 5225
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende



Sounds to me like an accomplished classical player with a few months of flamenco lessons. Compas seems to get lost a fair amount.

I only hate when people say influenced by flamenco just because they use phrygian. My friend Ethan lived in Lebrija for years played on Miguel Funi's last album now has a jazz band. Many of his songs use flamenco compas as a base for the song. When he says it's Flamenco inspired jazz it sounds about right to me.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 20:12:59
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

Lenny listened to Sabicas records and used flamenco techniques in his playing. So yes, he was influenced by flamenco. It's a simple as that.

Paco de Lucia was influenced by jazz music. He learned improvisation techniques from jazz players. So he was influenced by jazz. Did he sound like Django or Wes Montgomery? No. But he was influenced by jazz, it's as simple as that.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 20:24:40

Piwin

Posts: 2118
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

quote:

He talks a bit about flamenco and "breaking the rules"


Yeah that works when you actually know the rules. Point being that I wouldn't see Breau as having broken any of the rules of flamenco since I don't think he ever really knew them to start with. I feel that it would be unfair to "rate his level of playing" according to flamenco standards, just as it would be unfair to rate PdL's playing according to jazz standards. It's like Miles. It made for some interesting art and it's interesting to look at what he took from flamenco and how he morphed it into something else, but I certainly wouldn't judge him according to flamenco standards. So yeah, Lenny Breau was a good musician influenced to a certain degree by flamenco (as far as I can tell, mainly from instrumental solo guitarra pieces and that's about it. Most of the influence is just on the superficial aesthetic aspects like choice of keys and tuning, some right hand techniques but not much with respect to structure or the deeper aesthetics) but if I have to judge him solely according to flamenco standards it's not going to be pretty...

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"When I'm dead, I'm going to forget everything – and I advise you to do the same."
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 20:25:35
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

I can agree with you, Piwin. Lenny was definitely no flamenco player but he did interesting things with it in my opinion. He would incorporate flamenco and classical tremolo in jazz standards a lot. His Cabin Fever album is him playing jazz on a nylon string guitar and he uses sometechniques like tremolo a lot on that album.

But judging him as a flamenco player would indeed be like judging Paco as a jazz player.

Lenny was very influential in jazz guitar playing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 20:29:30
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

And by the way, I think "breaking the rules" is also about blending different styles together. And that is what Lenny did. And that is what Paco did. And many people hate it. That's what breaking the rules is.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 20:31:48
 
Leñador

Posts: 5225
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

quote:

he did interesting things with it in my opinion.

That's a tough sell for me. Borrowing a couple techniques and keys is not "doing something with it." in my opinion. The same way I don't see that Paco really did anything with jazz.

The only tremolo I heard from this guy was the Tarantaish thing and that's a classical tremolo.

You can't break the rules of basketball without playing the game, Lenny is not even playing the game. He's shooting hoops alone.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 20:52:16
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

OK, fair enough.

So do you guys like his playing in general, not thinking about the flamenco influence, just his style and sound?

Stuff like this:


Or this:
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:00:02
 
Leñador

Posts: 5225
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

As a guitarist I think he's amazing!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:05:20

Piwin

Posts: 2118
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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

I don't think Paco blended jazz with flamenco in any real sense. In fact, I don't think it's ever been done and I tend to doubt it's even possible. He brought in some novelties into flamenco, some of which were inspired by jazz musicians he had worked with. But it wouldn't make any sense in my mind to say that he "broke the rules of jazz". I don't think Paco was jazz-literate. Maybe it's a distinction without a difference, but I don't think PdL was inspired by jazz at all. I think he was inspired by certain musicians who happened to play jazz. And I suspect, from what you say, that Lenny Breau wasn't inspired by flamenco but by Sabicas. Like PdL with jazz, I don't think Breau was flamenco-literate. So I guess you could say he was breaking the rules out of ignorance. Breaking the rules he didn't know were there. But I'm not sure that has any artistic significance.

Using a tremolo or playing in tono de taranta or phrygio por arriba or whatever are just varnish, nothing more. The "rules" run much deeper. For me, anyone attempting to really fuse two styles would have to be aware of all of that. Which is why fusion is very difficult to do and fails more often that it succeeds. What I hear when I listen to Breau is not fusion. Just some borrowing of certain superficial aspects of flamenco (which is fine btw, not saying there's anything wrong with that). Or to put it simply, when I listen to his "taranta", I don't hear a taranta at all. So by that standard, if I'm told that his intent was to create a flamenco-jazz fusion, I'd say he failed. But I don't know that he was even attempting to fuse the two. I do know that Paco certainly wasn't trying to fuse the two (at least not in his own playing).

The problem goes both ways too. A jazz player uses the Andalusian cadence and for some that's enough to say it's flamenco or flamenco-inspired. A flamenco player plays an unusual chord and that's enough for some to call it jazz or jazz-inspired. To me that misses the essence of both genres entirely. Anyways, none of this it meant to be critical of Breau as a guitarist. It's just the idea of blending or fusion that I'm talking about.

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"When I'm dead, I'm going to forget everything – and I advise you to do the same."
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:09:46
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

I think Lenny just used little things from all kinds of music. Country, classical and different kinds of jazz mainly. And his flamenco influence is mostly some chords and some right hand techniques, nothing more. He was very much influenced by the piano playing of Bill Evans.

But it's my fault to start a thread like this. Lenny shouldn't be judged as a flamenco player or a country or classical or jazz player.

He should be judged as a musician. And in my opinion he was a fantastic musician who played with a lot of emotion... When says he's breaking the rules, I don't think he's talking about the rules of flamenco. I think he's talking about blending right hand techniques and harmonic concepts from different worlds together. And that is what he did.

Let's just talk about Lenny and his music.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:21:30
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2773
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

quote:

In the end it's all music. Nobody owns flamenco in my opinion. I think the gypsies had a big part in the creation of flamenco music and they were influenced by many styles of music from many different places...


The primary elements that influenced the creation of flamenco were the Moors, Sephardic Jews, and Gypsies in Andalusia. While the Gypsies have been predominant in carrying flamenco forward, it is a common mistake to think they "created" or "invented" it.

As far as "breaking the rules" of a particular genre of music, including flamenco, one must first know the rules, and know them well, before achieving any success at breaking them. Just breaking the rules out of ignorance (as Piwin stated above) does not ensure a successful result in music or any other endeavor.

Finally, one should be cautious about praising "fusion" of musical styles and genres. So-called "fusion" very often results in the lowest common denominator being exhibited, more a cacophony than a smooth fusion which is very hard to achieve.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:29:52
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

I never said gypsies "invented" flamenco. I said they played a big part in it.

Lenny is not "breaking the rules" of flamenco. He was "breaking the rules" of guitar playing. Is that so hard to understand...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:34:03
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

I dislike "fusion" styles most of the times as well.

But I love Lenny Breau's music. A lot of great guitar players like George Benson and Pat Metheny and many others agree that Lenny was a great musician and has contributed a lot to guitar playing. Lenny was a great musician and he could blend many styles and create something new.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:40:49
 
Leñador

Posts: 5225
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

quote:

Nobody owns flamenco in my opinion.

If you've spent time with flamencos in Spain it pretty well feels like the Gitanos own it, and the Spanish payos are allowed to participate if they play by the rules. The extranjero's are appreciated for trying to learn but you better be an encyclopedia of cante to be taken seriously.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:48:17
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

I've spent time in Sevilla.

One guy I became friends with there told me that he hates how closed minded some people get when talking about flamenco. He told me music, including flamenco, is art and nobody owns art.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:51:54

Piwin

Posts: 2118
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

quote:

Let's just talk about Lenny and his music.


Awww man. I was looking forward to a good old online brawl.

Has anybody else noticed how polite this place has become since that near-closure experience last fall? I'm calling Escribano out on this. I don't think there ever was any hacking or real threat to the site. Escribano just made it up as a ploy to get us to calm down. He knew we would quiet down after a blow like that. Where's the proof that there was any attempted hacking Escribano? For that matter, where's your long-form birth certificate? Can you prove you are who you say you are and haven't been taken over by a bodysnatcher? No I say, it's all made up. He's clearly in cahoots with the reptilians. Conspiracy!! Aux armes citoyens!!!
(welcome to the foro SombraDuende! )

_____________________________

"When I'm dead, I'm going to forget everything – and I advise you to do the same."
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 21:58:45
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

Thanks for the welcome, Piwin.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 22:07:59
 
SombraDuende

 

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RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

Another guitarist I like who used to blend different styles is Davy Graham. Davy combined middle eastern music with british celtic music and classical.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 22:15:58
 
Leñador

Posts: 5225
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

quote:

One guy I became friends with there told me that he hates how closed minded some people get when talking about flamenco. He told me music, including flamenco, is art and nobody owns art.


I get that usually but this particular art is a UNESCO world heritage treasure and for good reason so I feel like it's got it's own rules to an extant. As well, this particular art is a culture and people do own cultures.
It was incubated over generations by families until it made it's world debut being exploited by Franco.
White people don't own heavy metal but I think the gitanos have a pretty strong argument for owning flamenco.

quote:

For that matter, where's your long-form birth certificate?

And tax returns, we want to see tax returns!!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 22:20:36
 
Mark2

Posts: 1453
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

My mom said to me once that the music belongs to those who learn to play it. Seems to make sense to me, but flamenco is not just music. In fact, I'd say music is only half of it. So you could have a person who plays solo flamenco guitar very well, but if he isn't versed in the other aspects, he will be dismissed by many flamencos and aficionados. And even if he is, if he's from a different country, he will be dismissed by some anyway. Fair? Maybe not. Reality? Absolutely.

An opera singer can be from anywhere-if you have the pipes, you have it. Flamenco, not really.
Lenny was great and I love jazz guitar-Joe Pass, Django, Barney Kessel, etc, etc-all the greats.




quote:

ORIGINAL: SombraDuende

I've spent time in Sevilla.

One guy I became friends with there told me that he hates how closed minded some people get when talking about flamenco. He told me music, including flamenco, is art and nobody owns art.

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 23:00:27
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2773
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to SombraDuende

quote:

I never said gypsies "invented" flamenco. I said they played a big part in it.

Lenny is not "breaking the rules" of flamenco. He was "breaking the rules" of guitar playing. Is that so hard to understand...


While the Gitanos have carried flamenco forward and consider it their own, the Moors and Sephardic Jews had as much influence in the creation and initial development of what we call flamenco as did the Gitanos. Yet it is always the Gitanos who are given the lion's share of credit for creating flamenco. The Gitanos themselves find it in their interest to perpetuate this myth, and those with a superficial understanding of the history of flamenco by and large accept it.

I appreciate your obvious admiration for Lenny Breau, but when you state that he was "breaking the rules" of guitar playing, rather than the rules that govern particular genres of music, such as flamenco, classical, jazz, blues, etc. what do you mean? Various genres, and certainly flamenco with its compas and various palos, have some basic rules that define them. How does one "break the rules" of guitar playing, as you state above, without breaking the rules of the genre one is attempting to play?

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 23:22:08

Piwin

Posts: 2118
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Lenny Breau (in reply to Leñador

quote:

this particular art is a UNESCO world heritage treasure


There's a sort of "no one is a prophet in his own land" logic when it comes to cultural appreciation like that. I remember hearing and reading a lot of snark in Spanish media when flamenco was listed as part of UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list. The same happened in France when the Breton fest-noz was added to the list. If you participate in that cultural heritage, you like it. If you live far away from it, you like it because it is exotic. But if you don't participate in it yet live right next door, chances are you don't really see its value. A lot of people in France thought it was appropriate to add flamenco to the list but ridiculous to add fest-noz. So goes it. Since the US isn't party to the Convention, it doesn't have anything listed. I wouldn't be surprised though that, if some American things were added some day, many Americans might think "really? THAT is a UNESCO treasure?!"

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"When I'm dead, I'm going to forget everything – and I advise you to do the same."
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2018 23:23:12
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