07 June 2009

Gerard Cousins & Yusof B'layachi

The B'layachi - Cousins Duo.

Described as “Inspired Improv” by Time Out, The B’Layachi – Cousins Duo formed during the warm summer nights of 2006. The two friends, both accomplished in their own styles came together to record a series of spontaneous improvisations inspired by their recent repeated listenings to works by John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Steve Reich and Debussy. The Gathering of Opposites... Discovering the incredible variety of tones afforded by their differing instruments - Gerard Cousins and Yusuf B'layachi found this novel combination both evoked and collided the diverse worlds of music from which they were inspired. The metallic sounds of the steel strung provided a raw edge to contrast with the softer, more refined tones of the Spanish classical guitar.

Gerard Cousins.

Gerard Cousins’ expressive performances focus on sheer beauty of sound balanced with musical insight. His performances on TV and Radio have established his reputation as “one of Wales’s leading guitarists” (Western Mail) and at his Purcell Room debut, Musical Opinion noted his "beautiful playing and subtle phrasing".

An international prizewinner, Gerard has performed throughout Europe and from Turkmenistan to Peru where he was called a "Star of the Six Strings" (El Peruano). His CD’s have been described as ‘Guitar Magic’ (BBC Radio) and have been featured on Classic FM.
Gerard Cousins is also a keen composer and arranger. His compositions have been performed
by various ensembles in Europe and his film music has been broadcast on S4C and at Art
festivals around the world. His arrangements seek to expand the repertoire of the guitar and range from Baroque harpsichord compositions to contemporary minimalist piano scores.
Recent performances have included a tour of Saudi Arabia and participation in ‘The Rain Emperor’ – a theatrical performance event which was Critic’s Choice in Time Out.

Yusuf B’layachi.

The story goes that Yusuf B'layachi was born in a cave to his English mother and Berber father near the Atlas Mountains in southern Morocco. He took to the guitar at an early age after seeing his grandfather playing the Oud and quickly learnt the acoustic guitar and then also the bass, electric, and classical guitar. But it is his unique finger-picking style on the steel strung acoustic that Yusuf is most expressive and at one with. Yusuf's father took the family to the UK where he entrusted the Jazz guitarist Hugh Turner to teach his son. It was a formative time for the young teenager as Yusuf interpreted the sounds of the Jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. It would be some 10 years before these influences would resurface again combined with the Middle Eastern and Classical worlds when Yusuf formed the 'B'layachi - Cousins Duo'. Yusuf continues to write music, ever fascinated with the crossing of stylistic boundaries. He has written many compositions for the guitar and to broaden his musical language is being tutored by Walter Fabeck the London based composer and pianist.

Tonight’s concert will be a first half of solo guitar by Gerard Cousins and for the second half he will be joined by acoustic guitarist Yusuf B’Layachi. The programme will include some old favourites and new compositions and arrangements by the performers.