Pierre Bensusan

Press Release

Guitarist Pierre Bensusan In Hartford
By OWEN McNALLY, Special To The Courant
The Hartford Courant
February 28, 2013
Sounding like several guitarists playing at once, the French-Algerian guitar virtuoso Pierre Bensusan keeps complex bass lines moving at a rapid clip while spinning dazzling contrapuntal melodic lines, neatly wrapping his tsunami technique in soothing orchestral textures and flowing voicings.
As if these swift, simultaneous feats with just two hands weren't already more than enough acoustic artillery, Bensusan, in a cool yet sometimes impassioned tenor, sings smoothly switching from French to English lyrics.
It's all musically electrifying, even neurologically shocking. Bensusan surges through high-energy levels of consciousness, digital and vocal agility, zooming supersonically from nanosecond to nanosecond without ever short-circuiting his cerebral wiring system in a massive power outage.
An all-consuming eclectic, whose playing roams freely across all genres, including, classical, jazz, world music, New Age and a multi-cultural, super-pack of folk brands, including Brazilian, Arabic, Sephardic and Celtic, Bensusan doesn't fit neatly into any simple single category.
Which makes him an ideal performer for the Connecticut Guitar Society, the Hartford-based non-profit arts organization which is devoted, with ecumenical fervor, to promoting not just classical guitar—an acoustic genre it loves passionately — but many types of guitar styles.
Bensusan brings his original international sound, with its mix of solo guitar wizardry and cabaret style vocalizing (complete with his own brand of scatting), to Hartford on Saturday, March 2, at 8 p.m. for the CGS at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Ave.
Born in Oran, French Algeria in 1957—a tumultuous time when France's colonial grasp on Algeria was under revolutionary siege—Bensusan moved to Paris with his family when he was 4. Cosmopolitanism, being much at home with the world, was the future globe-trotting performer's birthright. As Sephardic Jews, his family had rich cultural and historical ties to Spain, Spanish Morocco and French Algeria.
By age 7, he began piano studies, perhaps an early inspiration for his thickly textured approach to the guitar, always striving for a bigger, multi-voiced sound as if he were sitting at a Steinway.
By 11, he was teaching himself guitar, influenced by the early folk revival rising in Britain, France and North America. Already, he was open to variety, showing an insatiable hunger to absorb every style he heard into the process of forging his own voice on guitar.
At 17, the teen titan signed his first recording contract. A year later, he made his debut recording, which won The Grand Prix du Disque, the first of a host of awards the high-flying guitarist/singer/composer would swoop up over the years.
Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the most unique and brilliant acoustic guitar veterans in the world music scene today," he was also voted "Best World Music Guitar Player in 2008."
The liner notes for his widely acclaimed album, "Vividly," trumpets the international troubadour as "an artist in constant evolution…a musician free of labels, prejudice, who crisscrosses the planet each year, far and wide, encountering people and music, beyond borders and bias."
Along with surging technical prowess, feeling rushes through Bensusan's music, whether he's tapping into a romantic, reflective, New Age/fusion or euphoric mood. With its Walt Whitmanesque shout-outs for uninhibited, exuberant expression, his all-embracing style, according to the liner notes, is rooted in "instant pleasure, joy, jubilation poured into one second, what Jack Kerouac (the Beat writer) most cerebrally called, 'the golden eternity.' "

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