Performing an entire program of solo guitar is quite a challenge. Range, dynamics and tone are some of the inherent pitfalls of the instrument. More classical and new-age folk than jazz, Pierre Bensusan tackles the challenge straight ahead on "Intuite" with mixed results. "Kadourimdou" opens the session with a provocative, bluesy, muted bass figure, percussive slaps and exotic chords. This piece works on a number of levels; it’s cerebral and rhythmically uplifting, while displaying extremely important elements of jazz - improvisation and jazz feeling. Unfortunately these elements are not in abundance on "Intuite". The next two tracks, "The Welsh Arrow" and "So Long Michael" don’t fare as well as the grand opener. The former is a medieval sounding thing dedicated to an archery champion, the latter a tribute to the late, great guitarist Michael Hedges. While they both demonstrate Bensusan’s unmistakable mastery of the guitar, they both sound a little forced, cliched and pretentious. "Bouree Voltige" is a sprightly, joyous dance in three-four time and fully displays Bensusan's soft, warm, even guitar tone and his sensitive touch. Harmonically and rhythmically speaking Pierre is coming out of the classical maestros Bach and Albeniz. That is to say that while this is all wonderful guitar playing, outside of the funky feeling on the opening piece, it ain’t jazz. This wonderfully packaged and recorded session is very suitable for listening to on a quiet Sunday morning with a good cup of coffee and the newspaper. And that’s not a bad thing, just not a jazz thing.
Track Listing: 1. Kadourimdou 2. The Welsh Arrow 3. So Long Michael 4. Intuite 5. Bouree Voltige 6. Le Jardin D'Adonis 7. La Hora Espanola 8. L'Alchimiste 9. Agadiramadan 10. En Route From Scarborough 11. Silent Passenger
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.