Guitarist Pierre Bensusan boasts a cinematically enviable background — his family is from such romance-conjuring locals as Spain, Spanish Morocco and French Algeria; he was born in French Algeria and grew up in Paris. Bensusan taught himself guitar at age 11 and, while still a teen, record his debut album, Près de Paris.
According to his press release, “His 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.”
Bensusan’s music has flavors of jazz, folk, trad, classical, French and Arabic, but is not derivative of any of those. The music is really more of an extension of Bensusan’s own exotic and borderless heritage, his multilingualism and well-traveled passport. In a video he says, simply, “I feel at home everywhere.”
And, from a press release, there’s this: “One of the key people that Bensusan and Vividly have emotionally lassoed is three-time Grammy Award winner and master guitarist Steve Vai, who has worked with fellow electric guitar monsters like Frank Zappa and Joe Satrianiand also toured with Ozzy Osbourne. Vividly was released in the U.S. and Canada on Vai’s label Favored Nations.
“Another iconic guitarist who played with Osbourne, along with Quiet Riot, was the late Randy Rhoads; an upcoming DVD Randy Rhoads: The Quiet Riot Years will feature Bensusan’s song ‘Hymn 11’ from his Altiplatos album. The video—a companion piece to the book of the same title—highlights the life of the guitar master who died in a plane crash in 1982.” The DVD will be available on guitarworld.com.
Following a performance at this year’s Montreal Jazz Festival, Bensusan plays a Saturday, May 12 concert at The Altamont Theatre. 8 p.m., $18.
Watch a video of Bensusan here: