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Pierre Bensusan

Press Release

Pierre Bensusan: Encore Front CoverReview by: Duke
Encore
Review by: Duke

Superlative. Oxford Dictionary defines superlative as, "of the highest quality or degree." Oxford's definition is woefully lacking when speaking about Pierre Bensusan's music and his superhuman ability with the guitar. He is world renowned as the "Mozart of Guitar."

In 2008, Guitar Player Magazine announced that Pierre Bensusan was the recipient of the Readers Choice award for "Best World Music Guitar Player." To be succinct, and not get into a discourse on the fundamental arguments as to what World Music represents, let's just say it is a genre based on multiplicity. The foundation of this aesthetic is formed by incorporating a combination of modes, scales and musical inflections from a variety of sources. On this, Bensusan is beyond superlative.

With more than three hours of incredible music, his three-CD album, Encore, elegantly takes listeners on the journey Bensusan traveled to become, in a phrase, The Best of the Best. Named "Album of the Month" for December 2013 by Spain's ultimate guitar magazine, Guitarra Total, this 40th Anniversary collection of songs captivates as only live performances can. Yes, Encore was recorded live. Even more fascinating is that the recordings were made from 1975 to 2013, so they became a chronicle of the making of the man who could very well be the most exceptional guitarist of all time.

Pierre Bensusan: Encore Back Cover Encore is a very unique treat, especially when you consider the following, from the album's press release, "Despite headlining over 3,000 shows throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa since the mid-'70s, his only live performance releases have been a DVD of a live concert in San Francisco in 1996 and a dual CD of a concert in Paris with French woodwind player Didier Malherbe, Live in Paris (1997)."

The tracking on Encore wasn't done in chronological order. The ever-consummate creator chose, instead, to create a sequence of songs so listeners could travel along with him on a journey of heart and sound.

Bensusan says he wants people to "feel not as though they are at any one of the concerts ... but basically in an intimate living room setting, allowing me to take them to different musical places."

You can hear the difference in Pierre's music compared to other fingerpicking stylists. DADGAD is his preferred tuning. So much so, in fact, it has become the name of his music label. D-modal or Celtic tuning is done by tuning the first, second and sixth strings down two and a half steps. So rich is the resultant sound, I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover other guitarists adopting Pierre's tuning.

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Pierre Bensusan: Encore (Disc 1)
Pierre Bensusan: Encore (Disc 1) None less than Pete Seeger and Joan Baez wrote letters to the US Department of Immigration requesting a work visa be granted to the then youthful Pierre Bensusan.

L' Alchimiste (Track 2) is the result of changing base metals into gold, just as Seeger and Baez must have known Pierre would make it his life's goal to do. Turn your ear to the euphonious chords circumnavigating honeyed tones and imagine Merlin the Magician's studious face bent to the task of creating beauty from banality, magic from reality.

Anthem For The Ocean (Track 4) is as dark and rich as obsidian. Yet it touches on the beauty and delicacy of porcelain. An unparalleled rainbow of musical colors caress the imagination. If the fabled pot of gold truly exists, it must be here.

Cordilliere (Track 7) bestows a wide-eyed quirkiness, effervescing your senses with the enthusiasm of discovering that your imagination can turn hemp into silk. Bensusan's music is intimate while maintaining a boldness, the work of a mage who defies folklore to remain firmly planted in this universe.

All of the tracks on Disc 1 could be a tribute to a legend, be it a mage in King Arthur's Court or a woman who spins straw into gold.

1 INTRODUCTION
Fred Boyce, Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA. (0:53)

2 L'ALCHIMISTE * (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce. (3:35)

3 KADOURIMDOU (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick, for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce. (4:51)

4 ANTHEM FOR THE OCEAN (Jordan Rudess, Pierre Bensusan)
With Jordan Rudess (Keyboards) Recorded live during the "FestivalTendances" on Nov. 7, 1998 at Georges Brassens Theater, St Martin de Boulognes, France, by Claudia Vergé. (6:56)

5 AGADIRAMADAN * (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick, for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce. (6:14)

6 SO LONG MICHAEL (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on March 8, 2013 at the Aelian Hall, London (ON) Canada, by Christoph Hodgins-Babin. (4:28)

7 CORDILLIERE (Philippe Val, Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on May 2, 1998 at the Jefferson Theater, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick. Produced by Peter Jones and Fred Boyce for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. (7:08)

8 SILENT PASSENGER (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on July 3, 2012 at Joe's Pub, New York (NY) USA by John Zientek & PB. (4:06)

9 BAMBOUL'HIVER (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Feb. 24, 2013 at Godfrey Daniel's, Bethlehem (PA) USA, by Dave Reichard. (8:48)

10 PAS SAGE (Doatea Cornu-Bensusan, Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on July 1, 2012 at Caffee Lena, Saratoga Springs (NY) USA, by John Zientek & PB. Live sound by Joe Deuel. (5:02)

11 BOURREE VOLTIGE (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick, for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce. (4:01)

12 DAMASQUEROS (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on March 28, 2001 at The Irish World Music Centre, Limerick, Ireland, by Lyric FM Radio for "Seinn". Produced by Kevin Brew & Olga Buckley. Live sound by Christophe Tritant. (4:33)

Disc 1 total time: 1:00:33

Pierre Bensusan: Encore (Disc 2)
Pierre Bensusan: Encore (Disc 2) When you remove Disc 2 from the case, you see a blinding spotlight on a single man, center stage, head bent over his guitar. One man. One chair. One guitar. One hell of a lot of talent and profoundly gratifying music. The graphic on this CD is printed in gold and that's what you get from it, pure gold. To my surprise and delight, Disc 2 presents amazing bluegrass interpretations. For those of you who don't know, there was a robust folk music scene in Paris in the 1970s. As fortune would have it, Pierre Bensusan cut his teeth in that environment.

Detour (Track 5), shocks and delights. Imagine a French-Algerian named Marcel Pierre tossing off a profoundly perfect version of this classic American hit. The accent is meticulously performed. The instruments, as with everything Bensusan plays, are a testament to talent.

Welsh Arrow Suite (Track10) titillates with the vibe of authentic English folk, yet deliberately and fiercely employs avant-garde sounds, the likes of which bridge the gap between fantasy and reality.

Celtic Medley (Track 14) is quintessentially Celtic. Lasting for a bit more than eighteen minutes, the medley is so robust you can imagine dancing, kissing a lover, tasting the beauty of ancient shadows and feeling the green fields embrace you in timelessness. Beyond skill. Beyond talent. Beyond practice. Beyond whatever the Heavens may hold dear, Pierre's playing is filled with the passions of not just music, but the lives lived behind the music and the loves languishing - or, perhaps, laughing - beneath the notes.

EPPALINGES
1-5: Recorded Live in May 1975 at the Eppalinges Folk Festival, Eppalinges, Switzerland, by The Radio Suisse Romande. Produced by Walter Bertschi.

1 RUBEN (Trad. USA, adapt & arr: Bill Keith & Jim Rooney)
With Bill Keith (banjo & vocal), Jim Rooney (guitar & vocal), Leon Francioli (upright bass), Pierre Bensusan (mandolin & vocal) (3:45)

2 ONE MORNING IN MAY * (Trad. USA, adapt & arr: Pierre Bensusan) (4:49)

3 JIGS: MERRILY KISSED THE QUAKER/CUNLA * (Trad. Ireland, adapt & arr: Pierre Bensusan) (4:00)

4 GAVOTTE * (Trad. France-Bretagne, adapt & arr: Pierre Bensusan) (2:25)

5 DETOUR (Trad. USA, adapt & arr: Bill Keith & Jim Rooney)
With Bill Keith (banjo & vocal), Jim Rooney (guitar & vocal), Leon Francioli (upright bass), Pierre Bensusan (mandolin & vocal) (2:52)

6 DEMAlN, DES L'AUBE (Victor Hugo - Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Oct. 5, 2001 at Godfrey Daniel's, Bethlehem (PA) USA, by Dave Reichard. (5:04)

7 NICE FEELING (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on July 25, 2008 at The Trockmorton Theater, Mill Valley (CA) USA by Brian Gore. Live sound by Edwin Dechazo. (5:00)

8 DAME LOMBARDE * (Trad. France, arr & adapt: Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded live on Oct. 5, 2001 at Godfrey Daniel's, Bethlehem (PA) USA, by Dave Reichard. (3:33)

9 LE LENDEMAIN DE LA FETE * (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Oct. 5, 2001 at Godfrey Daniel's, Bethlehem (PA) USA, by Dave Reichard. (1:59)

10 WELSH ARROW SUITE (Pierre Bensusan)
With Jordan Rudess (Keyboards). Recorded Live during the Festival Tendances, on Nov. 7, 1998 at Georges Brassens Theater, St Martin de Boulognes, France, by Claudia Vergé. (5:03)

11 SWI SlOS FA MO DHlDEAN (Trad. Ireland, adapt & arr: Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Oct. 5, 2001 at Godfrey Daniel's, Bethlehem (PA) USA, by Dave Reichard. (3:04)

12 LA FEMME CAMBREE (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce. (3:38)

13 FEEDING THE BIRDS (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on April 29, 1998 at Martyr's Music Hall, Chicago (IL) USA, by Gary Smith. (5:14)

14 CELTIC MEDLEY (Trad. Ireland, adapt & arr: Pierre Bensusan, except (*): Pierre Bensusan) (18:17)
(a) Heman Dubh *
(b) La Marche du Sonneur Egaré (*) *
(c) Voyage pour I'lrlande (*) *
(d) Suite Flamande aux Pommes (*)
(e) Shi Bhig, Shi Mhor * (O'Carolan, adapt & arr: Pierre Bensusan)
(f) The Rakkish Paddy *
(g) The Return from Fingal *
(h) Jigs: Merrily Kissed the Quaker/Cunla *
(i) Flamorgan Air
(j) The Last Pint (*)
Recorded Live on Feb. 3, 2001 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick, for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce.

Disc 2 total time: 1:08:39

Pierre Bensusan: Encore (Disc 3)
Pierre Bensusan: Encore (Disc 3) A magnificent photograph of Royal Concertgebouw graces the space behind Disc 3. The Amsterdam, Netherlands concert hall is one of the finest in the world. Here, where more than 800,000 make a pilgrimage to hear extraordinary music each year, once more we see a solitary figure embrace his guitar under the limelight.

In 1888, when the Concertgebouw opened, an orchestra of 120 musicians and 500 singers made their place on the main stage. The names of so many giants - Beethoven, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Handel and more - adorn the walls.

On the day the photograph was taken, one man, and one man only, commanded the stage. To think that when this same man left school at age 16 to pursue music, among some of those who knew him, there was chagrin. Now he is honored by Lowden with his own signature guitar. The luthiers, themselves, know his name and of his fame.

Disc 3 evolves with grace as well as fire. In the remarkably gifted hands of Pierre Bensusan, that doesn't become a contradiction, but a promise of fabulous things happening at every turn.

Alimatou (Track 5) is rhythmically charged, touched with a murmur of hope reincarnating to vivacity, joy and a smile. Optimistic and carefree, Alimatou engenders an overwhelmingly positive outlook on life.

Bamboul'ete (Track 8) is a kaleidoscope. A trace of the Caribbean, the lush scat echoes from a vibrant voice interwoven amid guitar notes and vocal patterns. The rich colors melt like quicksilver from one note to another. A diamond dropped in a pool of molten lava, Bensusan's voice is an instrument as highly effective as his distinctive guitar handling.

Playing forth from a myriad melody, resplendent of silken dreams and darkly tantalizing island zest, comes Lunar Tide (Track 12). Lofty, but languid, beautiful, but emotional, Lunar Tide is the perfect tune to be the last of this collection. It holds the listener in a moment of time that, but for the likes of a Pierre Bensusan, could not be lived to its fullest.

1 WU WEI (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on March 9, 2013 at Burchfield Penney Arts Center, Buffalo (NY) USA, by John Malinowski. (3:43)

2 INTUITE (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 10, 2009 at Die Brücke, Graz, Austria, by Günther Kolman. (6:32)

3 SENTIMENTALES PYROMANIAQUES (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on July 8, 2012 at The Trinity St Paul Unity Church, Toronto (ON) Canada by John Zientek & PB. Live sound by Anne Keillor. (2:42)

4 LA NUIT DES METEORES (Doatea Cornu-Bensusan, Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Feb. 26, 2011 at Swallow Hill Music, Daniel's Hall, Denver (CO) USA, by Brian Hunter (6:03)

5 ALIMAT0U (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA by Larry Minnick, for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce. (2:20)

6 LE CHIEN QUI TOURNE (Doatea Cornu-Bensusan, Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on June 12, 2012 at Napa Opera House, Napa (CA) USA, by John Zientek & PB. Live sound by Chad. (5:05)

7 CHANT DE NUIT (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on May 23, 2012 at the Takoma Park Community Center, Takoma Park (MD), USA, by Art Isaacs, Ralph Lillie & Dave Richardson. (5:05)

8 BAMBOUL'ETE (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on March 10, 2008 at the Takoma Park Community Center, Takoma Park (MD), USA, by Art Isaacs. (7:43)

9 DADGAD CAFE/HYMN 11 (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on July 7, 2012 at The Folkway, Guelph (ON) Canada, by John Zientek & PB. (8:38)

10 LES VOILES CATALANES (Doatea Cornu-Bensusan, Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce. (5:38)

11 FALAFEL A MONTSEGUR (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Nov. 15, 2002 at the Prism, Charlottesville (VA) USA, by Larry Minnick for WTJU - FM Charlottesville. Produced by Peter Jones. Live sound by Fred Boyce. (8:09)

12 LUNAR TIDE (Pierre Bensusan)
Recorded Live on Feb. 12, 2004 at Godfrey Daniel's, Bethlehem (PA) USA, by Dave Reichard. (3:11)

Disc 3 total time: 1:04:45

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Rather than a CD insert, the package comes with a booklet, "40 YEARS OF AN OPEN MIND Travel Journal." It chronicles Pierre's musical journey and is filled with many beautiful photographs.

Pierre Bensusan: Encore - Booklet Front Cover Pierre Bensusan: Encore - Booklet Photograph of Pierre Bensusan Pierre Bensusan: Encore - Booklet Back Cover

Encore is a musical journey through space, time, abstract and reality, reaching Olympian heights that only a master of the art can accomplish. Traveling to "different musical places" has been an extraordiary experience for me, one which I will forever remember.


Pierre Bensusan
MVDaudio MVD6049A
DADGAD MUSIC

Production: Pierre & Doatea Bensusan
Dadgad Music © Dadgad Music/Quart de Lune


Review by: Duke
duke@surfrockmusic.com

© Duke 2014
All Rights Reserved 
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