Pierre Bensusan is a guitarist, a composer, a man who constantly explores the depth of his own voice
Acoustic guitarist Pierre Bensusan performs Sunday, April — at 8 p.m. at The Mobius, 281 Fourth St. Cost is $16 students, $18 general. For information call 488-8894 or see the Web site .
Some guitarists have become fluent in the musical language of their time and place. Of these men and women, there are some who take in music from beyond their own surroundings and give birth to new musical ideas, brave compositions, and inventive playing styles. Most rare, however, are those artists who do all these things and continue to listen to their hearts, who compose beyond the limitations of their instrument, and who improvise without fear.
Pierre Bensusan is a guitarist, a composer, a man who constantly explores the depth of his own voice. In doing so, his music, (or as he says, his work) seems to come from a source much greater than the hands and voice of one man.
Working exclusively in the unusual DADGAD tuning, Pierre has developed a signature vocabulary that incorporates elements of Celtic music, American folk and Middle Eastern music, Latin and Jazz. International tours and innovative recordings have established him as, in the words of pianist George Winston, "one of the truly gifted musicians of our time - he plays the guitar as if it were the very soul of himself...Pierre is a musician who takes chances, and as such he is delving into many unique and previously unexplored techniques and sounds."
"What sets Bensusan aparts is the passion, soul, intensity, and rythmic complexity that mark even his quietest and most elegant pieces. Bensusan can generate real excitement and drama with his solo work through intriguing melodies, rich ornamentations, and sheer dexterous intrepidity"
"" The Twin Cities Journal
If world music is music that pays tribute to the spirit of a collection of human beings through distinct rhythms, traditional instruments and harmonic colors, Pierre Bensusan can be recognized as one of the most eloquent and diverse world musicians of our time. In his solo concerts that could last nearly — hours, and take the listener throughout the palette of emotions, between anxiety, serenety and deep joy, Bensusan weaves together the music from so many lands and so many times in history, no list of reasonable length here would suffice. And for each piece Bensusan describes as being influenced by a man from Iraq, or the middle-ages, or the essence of the Brazilian culture, each piece is informed by much more. None can be isolated as simply Brazilian or French; rather, they represent our world in its current state, a world sharing itself, fusing cultures together in ways we have never experienced.
On the surface, it may be unusual to recognize a steel-string acoustic guitarist as a premier jazz musician. Many jazz guitarists prefer electric or nylon-string guitars to facilitate the gymnastic chord positions and quick runs often found in jazz music. One look at Bensusan on-stage, barring chords while stretching five, sometimes six frets, is usually enough to make even the most well-versed jazz aficionado stop in their tracks. As technically impressive as is the simultaneous execution of a colorful melody, an active bass line, unique harmonic choices, and eclectic rhythms, it is the music that Bensusan hears that drives the mechanics of his body. There is a sense of something both playful and serious in his work, an unparalleled sense of freedom in his compositions and his improvisations. Freedom, the spirit of jazz incarnate, is Bensusan and the music he channels without any apparent musical boundaries.
And while it is true that his name has been synonymous with the guitar, Bensusan is more than what any musician or music lover expects from a guitarist. He is a composer. He is a bilingual and a brave improvisational vocalist, melding whistles and resonant low notes with something like his own scat technique. Yes, of all the guitarists in the world, Bensusan is considered to be one of the greatest we have ever known, but maybe we can see him in a different way. Maybe what is great about his work is that it is of all the guitarists in the world.
Born in Oran, French-Algeria, in 1957, when France was decolonizing its Empire, Pierre Bensusan's family moved to Paris when he was 4. He began formal studies on piano at the age of 7 and at 11 taught himself guitar. Influenced in those early days by the folk revival blooming in Britain, France and North America, Bensusan began first to explore his own diverse musical heritage and then moved to the horizons beyond. At 17 he signed his first recording contract, and one year later his first album Pr?de Paris won the Grand Prix du Disque upon his debut at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland. Today, listen to his new album Altiplanos and hear why Pierre Bensusan's name has become synonymous with contemporary acoustic guitar genius, long before the terms New Age or World Music were invented. The Mobius is located at 281 4th St, Ashland. Tickets are?$16 students/$18 general. For more information, visit , or call 541-488-8894.