Pierre Bensusan, L’Inoui, 26 June 2007

I’ve been listening to Pierre’s music for a few years now and find him to be utterly incomparable. The first CD of his that I bought was Intuite. Little did I know at that time that it was the first completely solo fingerstyle CD he had released. I listened to it over and over and finally got a chance to go and see him play at a little theatre in the Scottish borders. It was a great gig: quite small and reasonably intimate. I was surprised to hear him singing though. Not only did he sing some songs in his native French and English, but he also did some really cool scat singing.

Thereafter I started going back through his earlier works and discovered that he’s evolved quite a bit to get to where he is today. He started out playing bluegrass and traditional Scots/Irish.

I then went to see him at a festival in northern France where he did an 8-hour workshop over the course of two days. That was a real eye-opener and I got a lot out of it. Some of the stretching exercises he showed us are REALLY tough but well worthwhile.

My favourite concert venue is L’Inoui, a little café in the north of Luxembourg. It seats around 50 I would guess. It’s good to arrive a little early and have a candlelit meal before the performance begins. The food there is really good, too. Since I’m pretty much a regular there, I don’t feel so cheeky requesting a table at the front. This time it worked our perfectly. I was right in front of Pierre and could watch his fingers intently.

Falafel À Montségur
Pierre Bensusan

He was playing with a stand-up bass player whose name I can’t remember and who didn’t add a great deal to the gig in my humble opinion. He began with Hymn 11, one of my firm favourites of his. I plan to learn it at some point as it is one of the two pieces that he requests that potential students learn for his 7-day residential seminar (the other is the equally beautiful L’Alchimiste).

Intuite
Pierre Bensusan

The highlights for me were the two north-African tunes, Intuite and Falafel À Montségur. He began the second set with these and played them solo. I didn’t really get these tunes at the beginning, but, the more I listened to them, the more they got under my skin. I’ve recently come really to enjoy the music of Anouar Brahem and it’s in a similar vein. It was a real pleasure to watch him play these from such a short distance; truly mesmerising. He didn’t play any traditional Scots or Irish tunes during the set but more than made up for it in the encore; he played a medley of marches, jigs and reels that lasted about 15 minutes!

Celtic Suite
Pierre Bensusan

I spoke to him during the break and he remembered me from the workshop in France! That was cool. He then said at the end that he was thinking of me when he played the encore. Thanks Pierre!

All in all, it was the gig to surpass all gigs that I’ve seen so far at L’Inoui (including Don Ross, Beppe Gambetta, Dan Crary and Peter Finger). It has me thinking that I really ought to sign up for one of his residential seminars this year. The August one is too soon, so maybe I’ll try for the next one, probably in May.

I recorded the gig onto my iPod using a Belkin TuneTalk mic. I forgot to switch on the autogain, but still it hasn’t come out too badly.

Comments

  1. [this is good]

    Wonderful recordings! Thank you for sharing these.

    I recognize the last piece in the Celtic Suite from a major-label album called Spices he put out in the late eighties. It’s a range of things, some solo guitar, some band pieces, some singing. A few places may feel too “smooth jazz” for some listeners, but I think the whole thing is marvelous.

  2. Spices is one I’ve yet to add to my collection. One of my favourite of Pierre’s CDs is his first one, Près de Paris. He plays a mean mandolin on Sunday’s Hornpipe.