Review Summary: In this case, great musicianship does equal great music.
Usually the crowd reactions tell you a lot about a live album, and Lenny Breau and Dave Young’s collaborative effort Live at Bourbon Street
is no exception. The polite claps and muffled “woots” and whistles suggest that this was a very intimate set with but a few dozen people in attendance. Now, if this were a rock record, such a polite reception would be seen as indicative of a poor set; but since this is a bluesy jazz duo, the reception suggests a knowledgeable crowd enjoying some mellow and classy jazz. The duo is comprised of Lenny Breau on the seven string electric guitar and Dave Young on upright bass and both are exceptional musicians. This is a record that can be put on both to listen to intently or to simply have on as background music (I spun this a lot while studying for exams). Such an atmosphere is both a blessing and a curse for Live at Bourbon Street, however.
The music itself is impeccable and pretty much without fault really. From the bouncy glide and walking bass line of opener “There Is No Greater Love” to the gentle and deliberate majesty of closer “My Foolish Heart”, each composition is worth its weight in gold. The musicianship is simply outstanding, which is no surprise considering it consists of two jazz mainstays. The subtle experimentation with the volume knob which gives an interesting hum and dynamic such as during the bass solo on the lengthy “On Green Dolphin Street”, portrays a different edge to the music that isn’t always seen on a traditional jazz affair. Breau is also a master at complimenting his skillful and swift runs with simple yet elegant melodic figures. At the other end, Dave Young never misses a beat and his solos are graceful and interesting.
These two are better discussed together then separate though because the best part of this album is the phenomenal attention to interplay and communication. More then just feeding off of one another, the two musicians interweave their patterns to create a single, solid sound. Young does more then simply walk the chord progression for Breau to solo over, he intertwines his figures to create a rich tapestry of melody and harmony. This allows to Breau to breathe more life into the compositions, instead simply showing how well he can play guitar. This is more about how well he can play music
. It’s a wonder why the man remained so underground throughout his career, never gaining even remotely as much attention as he deserves.
The only problem with the record seems to be inherent to the listener. It has nothing to do with the music per say, but more to do with the limitations of the duo. Simply, Live at Bourbon Street
consists of two discs of lengthy compositions in the traditional jazz mold, featuring only the guitar and bass. If that really isn’t your thing, you will have a hard time listening to the album. However, if you’re interested in listening to some great musicianship full of outstanding interplay by two masterful musicians, look no further. Whether it’s the solid backing of Young or the incredible guitar playing of Breau, this double disc is worth looking into for any jazz fan.