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Published:March 15th, 2011 13:09 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with French-Algerian Guitarist, Singer and Composer Pierre Bensusan

Judyth Piazza chats with French-Algerian Guitarist, Singer and Composer Pierre Bensusan

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

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 diverse world musicians of our time. 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 Bensusan was voted "Best World Music Guitar Player in 2008" by Guitar Player Magazine Readers Choice. His name became synonymous with contemporary acoutsic 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. Not to be missed!

Best World Music Guitar Player in 2008 !
(Guitar Player Magazine Readers Choice Award - USA)

"Pierre`s music gives me the shakes. No other guitarist shares his strange gifts of sophistication, accessibility and downright joy. Even at its most complex, Pierre`s music only needs ears to be enjoyed."
Leo Kottke

"Listening to Pierre Bensusan is rejuvenating. Beside his extraordinary touch and tone, the notes and melody appeal directly to the tender side of our human nature."
Steve Vai

"One of the truly gifted musicians of our time - he plays the guitar as if it were the very soul of himself."
George Winston

"Bensusan gently lures his punters into a world where the sky is not just a different hue, but an entirely different texture, and fulfills a different function too. Instead of offering a roof on his world, it`s simply a springboard to an entirely different plane where three chords and the truth simply don`t cut it. With the entire audience on side, Bensusan`s inveterate pursuit of music`s less navigated terrain is still a show-stopper - and resonate long after he sounded his final note."
Siobhan Long, The Irish Times (Ireland)

"Impossibly beautiful"
David Curry, The Canberra Sunday Times (Australia)

"Whenever the name "Pierre Bensusan" is mentionned to a guitarist, guitar fan, or anyone seriously into music, their response is always one of awe, reverence, and enchanted bewilderment at the man`s unparallelled dexterity and creativity on acoustic guitar. He released his first album in 1975, and since then has carved a reputation as one of the most innovative guitarists there is, practically unrivalled by any acoustic (or maybe even electric) player. Pierre`s music, though highly complex, is defined by melody and accessibility. You can hum a piece by Pierre Bensusan. The melodies lodge in the mind easily as well as make you wonder "How does he do that ?"
Kernan Andrews, The Galway Advertiser (Ireland)

"Bensusan, the bridge builder"
Don O`Mahony, The Irish Examiner (Ireland)


* Guitar Player Magazine Readers choice award, for 2008 Best World Music Guitar Player, in the USA
* 2002 AFIM (American Association for Independent Music) Award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album
* Album du Mois/Album of the Month (Journal de Montreal/Canada)
* Album of the Year (fRoots/UK)
* Best Albums (Guitarist Magazine/UK)
* Bravo de la Redaction (Trad. Mag./France) 2002/2006
* Naird Award (USA 1983)
* Grand Prix du Disque Montreux Festival (Switzerland 1976)


"Music which is palpable, figurative, infinitely poetic and celestial. A hymn to humanity."
L`Arche (France)

"Altiplanos is a monumental achievement; one that will surely set its place in music history."
Penguin Eggs (Canada)

"Album of the year, by a long margin.
Roots (UK)

"With Altiplanos, Bensusan demonstrates why he has become one of the most distinctive and influential guitarists."
Mike Joyce/The Washington Post (USA)
"Bensusan`s remarkable technical ability has never been in question, but it`s the sheer musicality and lyricism of his body of work that has cemented his position as one of the most accomplished acoustic guitarists on the planet. Altiplanos, with its combination of solo, multitracked and ensemble pieces, simply reaffirms and builds upon Bensusan`s already stellar reputation."
John Kelman, (USA)

"A beautiful balance betwen Renaissance nostalgia and the most contemporary swing."
Le Soleil de Quebec (Canada)

"A musician in the tradition of the most famous and accesible alchemists. Simple, efficient, eclectic and exquisite, his style is able to transform any armchair into a flying rug."
Le Petit Bleu (France)

"Ten albums on, and French acoustic fingerstyle guitarist, Pierre Bensusan is about as far from autopilot mode as the Cistine chapel is from Andy Warhol`s soup cans... It is Bensusan`s appetite for experimentation and his bold forays into territory more usually the domain of dance maestros, that stir the listener to reach for his back catalogue. His is an acoustic architecture rather than a landscape, replete with French literary references that reek of a musical imagination that refuses to sit still. Long may this guru`s itch remain unreachable. Attention deficit (dis)order never sounded so ravishing."
Siobhan Long, The Irish Times, 4 Stars (Ireland)

"Spellbinding....Bensusan the composer challenges Bensusan the guitarist displaying a reach never before attempted by a solo guitarist...and succeeds in creating a masterpiece, destined to be at the top of any short list of the great solo guitar albums of this or any millenium! Far beyond technical brilliance, this is the work of a mature artist that run the gambit from heartbreakingly romantic to edgy and dangerously exciting."
James Jensen/

"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-USA

"Spirited" is the word that perhaps best sums up Bensusan`s performance. His message is articulate and delivered with an unmistakable "joie de vivre".
Jazziz (USA)

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