To call French Algeria-born guitarist Pierre Bensusan a new age artist would be a terrible disservice to his extraordinary talent and a compliment the genre, for the most part, doesn't deserve. The 47-year-old virtuoso is a self-taught phenom whose utter mastery of the acoustic guitar and all its colors and timbres has consistently pushed the perceived boundaries of possibility when it comes to the music that can be made on the instrument. In fact, it is perhaps because he is self-taught that Bensusan has been able to reach deeper into the well than most his contemporaries and guitarists before him.
As evidenced by his latest release, the mesmerizing Intuite (Favored Nations), Bensusan's playing is not only fluid, but brilliantly imaginative in a way that challenges the listener to reconcile what he or she is hearing with a single musician playing a single instrument. And much of what Bensusan is able to accomplish musically goes far beyond the realm of what most listeners consider humanly possible. In that sense, Bensusan is one of few guitarists, living or dead, that can be compared to the likes of the late Chet Atkins or Australian master Tommy Emmanuel.
Bensusan's playing is truly breathtaking, as is his gift of composition and textural understanding. It's as though he's able to think out loud directly through the guitar in several languages—jazz, Celtic, Latin, folk, African, gypsy. And while listening to his records is certainly a magical musical experience, seeing the man live is akin to an out-of-body experience. Between shaking your head in quiet disbelief and clapping ecstatically, you'll not be able to control the smile of pure joy on your face when Bensusan is manipulating the six strings that speak for him. His gifts are strange, but you'll be ever so glad he's willing to share them. Guaranteed.
Weekly Alibi is proud to sponsor Pierre Bensusan's appearance at the Outpost Performance Space on Saturday, March 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 general, $13 Outpost members, available in advance at The Book Stop (268-8898) or at the Outpost. Call 268-0044 for more information.