“The way the guitar would want to sound if it played itself.”
“Bensusan is very much his own animal. It’s like listening to a butterfly, to dappled sunshine coming through quaking aspens. His music flits and darts around like fish in a pool. And his compositions manage to encompass both the calmness of the pool and the flashing of the fish. It’s an entrancing, almost hypnotic thing to watch and hear, as he seems eager to share his journey, his light. I was struck by how the aim of each song was to be beautiful. Not witty, not avant-garde, not new, necessarily, but beautiful. A great craftsman plying his trade. A shepherd with his flock. As I left I felt all of a sudden that I’d been to temple after all. My own sort of temple, and by the end of the service I felt purified, cleansed, and ready for the new year.”
Nyack News and Views (USA, Dan Cohen, Oct 4, 2015)
Winner of the Independent Music Award, in the Live Performance Album category for his latest triple live album “Encore” (2014), “Rose d’Or” of the Montreux Festival for his first album, “Près de Paris” (Switzerland, 1976), “Best World Music Guitar Player ” by the readers of Guitar Player Magazine (USA, 2008), Pierre Bensusan is recognized as one of the premier musicians of our time.
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, French-Algerian guitarist, singer and composer Pierre Bensusan can be recognized as one of the most eloquent and world musicians today.
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 “Pres de Paris” won the Grand Prix du Disque upon his debut at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland.
Described by the L.A. Times as “one of the most unique and brilliant acoustic guitar veterans in the world music scene today”, Pierre’s name became synonymous with contemporary acoustic guitar genius, long before the terms New Age, New Acoustic Music or World Music were invented. He has the ability to make a single guitar sound like an entire band as he brings the audience on a mesmerizing musical journey. And yet, Bensusan is more than what any musician or music lover expects from a guitarist. He is a composer as well as a bilingual and a brave improvisational vocalist, melding whistles and resonant low notes with something like his own scat technique.
There is a sense of something both playful and serious in his work, an unparalleled sense of freedom in his compositions and his improvisations. His “manner” of playing defies classification – crossing world, classical, jazz, traditional, folk and more. None can be isolated as simply “Brazilian”, “Arabic” or “French”; rather, they represent our world in its current state, a world sharing itself, fusing cultures together in ways we have never experienced. A great embassador of peace. Not to be missed!
PIERRE BENSUSAN & GEORGE LOWDEN IN CONVERSATION @THE VENUE, O’DONOVAN’S HOTEL. SAT// 5PM €5 – It’s 1978 and one of the world’s best young guitarists meets an Irish artisan on his way to becoming one the most respected luthiers on the planet. What happened next? George and Pierre look back on 40 years of friendship and creative collaboration, detailing Pierre’s “mad” design requests and co-evolution of George’s craft in dialogue with Pierre’s music. With some musical interludes and a Q&A, this is a must for fans of acoustic guitars and the characters who keep driving innovation in this ancient craft.