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Buddy Emmons & Lenny Breau: “Minors Aloud”

(Art of Life AL1014-2)

Discography | About the Music | Liner Notes | Selected Quotations

Buddy Emmons & Lenny Breau: "Minors Aloud"

Lenny Breau: electric guitar, vocals
Buddy Emmons: pedal steel guitar, vocals
Charles Dungey: acoustic bass
Randy Goodrum: keyboards
Kenny Malone: drums

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Minors Aloud
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Compared To What
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Killer Joe
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Long Way To Go
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Secret Love
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Scrapple From the Apple
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On a Bach Bourée
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About the Music {top}

"Minors Aloud" was recorded at Pete's Place in Nashville, Tennessee on August 7th & 8th, 1978 and originally released the same year on LP on Flying Fish Records. The album features several Jazz standards including Charlie Parker's Scrapple From the Apple and Benny Golson's Killer Joe in addition to the title track co-written by Buddy and Lenny. The closing track, Lenny Breau's composition, On a Bach Bourée, based upon J.S. Bach's Bouree in E Minor, is a perfect symbiosis of Jazz meets Classical. Buddy and Lenny are joined by acoustic bassist Charles Dungey, keyboardist Randy Goodrum and drummer Kenny Malone. The 6-page CD booklet includes the original album cover artwork and liner notes exactly as they appeared on the original LP release as well as new liner notes written by Buddy Emmons. Also included is a copy of the lead sheet for the title track handwritten by Lenny Breau himself! All tracks have been digitally remastered from the original analog master tapes using 24-bit digital technology.

Liner Notes {top}

The "Minors Aloud" album has been a sentimental favorite of mine not only for having shared it with a dear friend, Lenny Breau, but for the way it came about.

During my tenure with the Flying Fish label in the seventies, producer Mike Melford asked me if I would be interested in recording with Lenny Breau. My response was a quick yes but on the condition that Lenny would be the featured artist and I'd be listed as a guest. My previous Flying Fish albums were not exactly mainstream Jazz and I felt that Lenny's vast musical vocabulary would be better served if he chose and arranged all of the tunes. Mike said it was fine by him.

The night before the recording date, Mike met Lenny at the Nashville airport and brought him to my house. On our way to the music room I asked Lenny what songs he had for the album and his answer was, "I don't have anything man. What have you got?" A hot flash hit me and I had to tell him I didn't have anything either. With a limited amount of time set in the studio the next day, thoughts of disaster started swarming through my head. Lenny just cackled and said, "Well then, let's set up and pick some tunes."

My first choice was Scrapple From the Apple and Lenny followed with a blues tune he created around a pet riff consisting of fifth intervals. We named it Minors Aloud and moved on. I remember Lenny's cool demeanor having a lifting effect on me. A couple of hours and a few laughs later I was beginning to feel we could actually pull this thing off. We began around seven o'clock that evening and shortly after midnight, we had an album. Ten o'clock the next morning, we were in the studio.

I learned later that Lenny hadn't been told anything about the project other than to just show up. With a few days preparation and a little polish to the arrangements, this would have been a different album. For better or worse we'll never know, but I do know the solos were spontaneous, the energy level was fantastic, and we all had a great time getting there. Looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Buddy Emmons - February 2005

Selected Quotations {top}

Art of Life recently reissued Canadian ex-pat Lenny Breau's last album before his untimely death in '84, "Swingin' on a Seven-String", bringing the special relationship that Breau shared with Nashville pedal steel legend Buddy Emmons to the fore again. Breau, a guitarist who may not have reached the public acclaim he deserved, had a remarkable ability to self-accompany in a way that made him sound like two and sometimes three players at once, and he influenced a wide range of guitarists both then and to this day. His relationship with Emmons went back to the late `70s, when they recorded their first collaboration, "Minors Aloud". With Art of Life's remastered reissue of that first meeting, it's now possible to hear how their relationship began and how it ultimately evolved.

It's no surprise that Breau would find so much in common with a player more associated with country music. He was raised on country, and while he would ultimately forge an approach combining those roots with flamenco and a purer Jazz aesthetic, he got his professional start at the age of twelve as part of his parents' travelling band, copping Chet Atkins and Merle Travis instrumentals with frightening accuracy. Even when he emerged as a more "serious" Jazz player in the late `60s, he retained an allegiance to his upbringing, delivering a staggering solo version of Jerry Reed's "The Claw" on his second album, a live classic, "The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau".

Emmons was aligned with the country scene in Nashville, but he had stretched the limits of his instrument and had some serious Jazz chops of his own. So when he was approached in '78 with the idea of doing an album with Breau, he jumped at the chance. The only conditions were that Breau be the featured artist, with Emmons listed as a guest, and for Breau to choose and arrange the material. When Breau arrived for the session, however, he came completely unprepared-not out-of-character for an artist who, while capable of pristine clarity on his instrument, struggled for most of his adult life with various substance abuse problems and was often less than predictable.

The result is that material for "Minors Aloud" was literally selected and worked out the night before the session, lending it an impromptu energy that probably made it better than a more pre-planned date would have been. We'll never know the answer to that, but based on the performances and the clear simpatico between Breau, Emmons, and the rhythm section, there's no indication that anyone was less than ready when the tape rolled.

The programme covers a lot of territory-Charlie Parker and Benny Golson standards, a couple of quickly pieced-together Breau originals, a country tune, and an R&B song-and it demonstrates players at the kind of advanced level where jumping in without a safety net is not only a way to go, it's THE way to go. In his liner notes, Emmons says, "I wouldn't have it any other way," and neither should we.
John Kelman All About Jazz

He revolutionized the instrument, from the way he set up to the fast, breathtaking way he could play it, and appropriately he is regarded as the greatest steel guitarist in the world. Emmons is alone at the top.
Harry Morrow Country Music Magazine

The sound quality of the CD far surpassed the LP on many fronts. This CD is a must for Breau collectors as it has been out of print for too long. Superb playing by all involved!
Wally V. - Canada



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