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Pierre Bensusan: Musiques

Pierre Bensusan MusiquesPierre Bensusan Musiques back
Pierre Bensusan: Musiques
(1979 Rounder Records)

Side A:
Heman Dubh
Le Voyage Pour L'Irlande
Si Bhig, Si Mhor/The Rakish Paddy
Water Music
Climats Doux Et Temperes
La Marche du Sonneur Egare

Side B:
Perles De Cristal
Adios Muchachos
Clementine, Mandarine Et Reine Claude
Le Moulin A Parfums D'Emmanuelle
Palomita Blanca
Hekimoglu
Impression

Original Liner Notes:
by Pierre Bensusan

In the late 1960s, a steadily growing, diverse group of guitarists on both sides of the Atlantic began significantly expanding the range of repertoire of the finger-picked acoustic guitar, building on styles introduced years earlier in the U.S. by black blues and ragtime and white country pickers. Pierre Bensusan, though one of the newer and younger of these players, belongs in the forefront of that movement. Both his far-ranging imagination and his far-reaching technical ability rank him along with, if not above, his own early heroes among contemporary guitarists -a list that includes British players Bert Jansch, Davey Graham, John Renbourne and Marting Carthy, and Americans Eric Schoenberg, Stefan Grossman and Ry Cooder.

Yet not all of Pierre's influences come from the amorphous world of "folk" guitar. One of his most important influences, himself and early booster of Pierre, was banjoist Bill Keith, with whom that then 17 year old Algerian-born Frenchman first toured Europe, primarily as a mandolinist, in 1974. In a quite different vein, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin and, most recently, Lenny Breau are names that appear frequently in Pierre's conversations about his musical interests. So for that matter, do the names Bach and Handel. "I very seldom listen to just guitar music," Pierre has remarked, "I try to listen to every instrument, to every music, to every kind of expression."

It is, in fact, "expression" that provides the key to the power and beauty of Pierre's music -the element that forges a unified, distinctly personal vision from a multitude of international "musiques."

As represented on this album, those varied sources fall generally into two categories: one, haunting, modal tunes -such as "Voyage Pour L'Irlande" and "La Marche du Sonneur Egare" -that echo with the mournful droning of Celtic pipes and the quavering, buzzing and stinging of Middle Eastern strings; and, two, bright lyrical melodies- "Perles de Cristal" for example- set in intricate contrapuntal arrangements that easily recall Renaissance ensembles, Irish harps, and ragtime pianos. Yet weather freely improvisation during a snow-bound recording session or playing a carefully worked-out Argentinian tango borrowed from the accordion players of the Paris cafes and learned from the whistling of his father, Pierre infuses his music with great energy and feeling, making musicological categorizing of decidedly secondary interest.

"I just know that I do all that I can to be completely open and to take in some vibes and give those vibes back again." Pierre remarked towards the end of his firs, highly successful tour to the U.S. last spring. "In that case, my music's not folk; it's not jazz; it's not pop; it's not classical. It's mine. And I would like to keep it that way." In Musiques lies the proof.

Track Notes:
by Pierre Bensusan

Heman Dubh
-Originally a worksong from the Hebrides highlands in northern Scotland that Alan Stivell adapted on his harp, with more sophistication.

Le Voyage Pour L'Irlande
-An original composition to thank Ireland for giving me, a few years ago, a new feeling about music in general.

Si Bhig, Si Mhor/The Rakish Paddy
-Another cruise to Ireland with two traditional tunes; the first one comes from the repertoire of the blind Irish harpist O'Carollan, who lived in the 18th century.

Water Music
-Two pieces of Handel's "Water Music," one of my favorites on the road.

Climats Doux Et Temperes
-An original improvisation, interpretation while trapped in the studio by snow.

La Marche du Sonneur Egare
-An original composition and interpretation of pipe music player on the guitar and illustrating the story of a man who worked at the main post office in Glasgow, Scotland. He played bagpipes and marched every weekend with 99 other pipers and a Major 50 miles north of Glasgow. One weekend he was so deep in the music he was playing that he closed his eyes, just as the other 99 pipers received an order from the Major to turn to the left instead of going straight as usual. (It was one of the Major's last whims before he retired.) As he was in the last row on the far right hands side, the piper never knew he had to turn. He kept going straight ahead and was never found again.

Perles De Cristal
-Here is an example of "musette music," which is a mixture of many musical influences created by people coming from the different national groups inside France -Italian accordion player, blues, ragtime and jazz musicians, Celtic music,
and much more.

Adios Muchachos
-A famous Argentinian tango. Tango music was very popular in France between the 1930's and the '60's. It's as much a part of French culture as Rock and Roll, the Bossa Nova, and classical music. The world is small, really. Thanks to my
father, who introduced me to this music.

Clementine, Mandarine Et Reine Claude
-An original composition.

Le Moulin A Parfums D'Emmanuelle
-Original piece dedicated to the musician Emmanuelle Parrenin.

Palomita Blanca
-A waltz played in Argentina and Uruguay. Very nice on harp too, Indian harp.

Hekimoglu
-A Turkish ballad that I learned form Michelle Shallon.

Impression
-Another snow-bound improvisation, a few days later.

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