Pierre Bensusan & Didier Malherbe: Live in Paris

Zebra Acoustic; (800) 490-5465;

Playing with the technical precision of classical musicians and the high-spirited freedom of jazz improvisers, French Algerian guitarist Bensusan and Parisian flute/saxophone virtuoso Malherbe move easily between and beyond genres in this 1997 duet concert recording. A dazzling guitarist in the folk-jazz style pioneered by Michael Hedges and other Windham Hill stylists over the past two decades, Bensusan boasts a sparkling sound on “eclectro-acoustic guitar” (it sounds acoustic, with extra edge and oomph) and a delightful melodic imagination. Malherbe, a founder of the legendary progressive-rock supergroup Gong, proves a marvelous foil, switching between saxophones (alto and soprano), flutes (silver, bamboo), ocarina, and clarinet, and weaving spiraling lines through Bensusan’s complex chords and mercurial fingerpicking. On eight original compositions and two free improvisations, the duo swings through moods ranging from reflective to playful, with tinges of blues, bluegrass, jazz, and flamenco cropping up in surprising places.