"Two Other Virtuoso Musicians Doing Fine Work In Town"
(From The Globe And Mail-January 25, 1973)
By Jack Batten
There are a couple of virtuoso jazz musicians at work in the city this week-and that isn't even counting Ella Fitzgerald or Oscar Peterson. The othe two virtuosos are Lenny Breau, the Winnipeg born guitarist who's leading his trio at George's Spaghetti House, and Hugh Thompson, a pianist who moved to the city from Cleveland a couple of years ago and who has taken his trio to Stop 33 at the top of Sutton Place for the next couple of weeks.
One of the great appeals of breau's work-and it was appealing enough to pack George's to the walls on the night I visited the place, packed with a crowd that included a high percentage of dazzled and envious fellow musicians-is that he approaches each of his numbers with a kind of wide-eyed curiosity. He lends the impression that he doesn't know any better than the audience what's going to spring from his guitar, and when the music begins to flow, he seems as agreeably surprised as his listeners at the grace of his inventions.
He played three tunes in the set I heard, and each one represented something different in style. On the first, he got inside the tune, which happened to be "Autumn Leaves", in a Bill Evans-like way, discovering as he went something new and involving in the melody. On the second number, it was all stops out, and he didn't so much explore the song as overwhelm it. And the third, "Shadow Of Your Smile", offered a combination of the two approaches, good swift inventive jazz.
A word, too, for Breau's bassist. He's Michel Donato. He plays a stand-up wood bass, and he attacks it with just about prodigious technique and imagination.