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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pierre Bensusan, early Cezame discs and Christian Orsini's Translab cutting-room

Strange topic, don't you?!?

This freezing, 10 degrees Celsius below zero Sunday afternoon, I had a relaxing listening in my studio... a couple of hours, nothing excessive... BUT very heart warming, indeed:-)

After enjoying some Tojohiko Satoh's lute and Bach's harpsichord, I found by chance some records I forgot I had... the first pressings on Cezame label of Pierre Bensusan's first three records.

I know Pierre awesome music and guitar playing since early '80s, I play on my acoustic several of his beautiful pieces and own ALL his records in vinyl or disk formats...

So what?

Some years ago, after owning "Pres de Paris" , "2" and "Musiques" on Rounder label, nice reissues and the only available pressings for years... I enjoyed these discs immensely, but I knew they were reissues, so (maybe/someway) "second choice"...

Cezame first issues... I searched everywhere all the times I was in France: Paris, Aix, Cannes, Nice, Strasbourg... all record shops received my request for those elusive sought-after items... nothing, at both new or second-hand shops... for years!

Only a couple of years ago, at a flea market in my area... all three a.m. records in a row fairly priced and in top conditions... searched for years and then... ZUT! Found!

I remember I only handled them and, maybe, had a short, distract listen: it's collector syndrome:-)))... since these very afternoon...

... oh, oooh...

I listened to "2" and "Musiques" and at first notes I became aware of something special was going to happen... the sound, quite "old timey", smooth and romantic, also due to the flesh-only, no fingerpicks or nails, Pierre's playing was lively and sparkling, much, MUCH better than my (aural) memory told me.

Reading covers liner-notes, I understood - "gravure", French for cutting, was done by one of THE greatest, ever: Christian Orsini and his Translab cutting room!

He's "guilty" of several "Owl" record label masterpiece, Michel Petrucciani, solo and with Lee Koonitz, Steve Lacy with Gil Evans, several, almost all the 20+ vinyls on Owl I own in my discotheque are blessed by Orsini's masterful hand.

Sound is always dynamic and natural, tracking is a bliss for my Lumiere's DST... Translab REALLY is among the very best, ever - i.e. Doug Sax' and Bernie Grundman's in the USA, The Cutting Room in Solna, Sweden, John Dent's The Exchange and Loud in England.

I was surprised, nicely and pleasantly surprised and Pierre's voice and singing never sounded soooo natural, effortless and rich of nuances and details and harmonics... Pierre's Lowden's still young and far from getting "her" present "Old Lady" status:-) - the guitar Pierre used for many years, in concert and studio - was so woody with that seldom heard "all flesh" playing.

A very lucky find - both years ago, at that flea-market and today, on that shelf - and impressive thinking about the weight a nice cutting of a master-tape can do to the final sonic result!

... forgot to say... when I briefly tried "Musiques" on Rounder label... needless saying it sounded like broken vs. Cezame's!

A nice lesson.

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