Bert Jansch: the man and musician
Bert Jansch’s innovative guitar technique, haunting voice, and songs which penetrate straight to the heart, have been revered by musicians, critics and audiences across the world for over five decades. Though he died in 2011, his light has not diminished. His colleagues and admirers, as well as new musicians and audiences, continue to enjoy and discover his music.
Colleagues have said
What inspired Bert and how he worked.
I think it fair to say that British acoustic guitar playing could be divided into two categories. The style before Bert and the style after Bert. Those of us captivated by the finger style picking of the American masters both black and white, would acknowledge that although there were clearly great pickers here in Britain i.e. Davey Graham, Wizz Jones, Martin Carthy and Archie Fisher, there was no one who played like Bert before Bert.
Where did it come from?
Well certainly all the above-mentioned artists influenced him, especially Davey but there was something else which I think was always present in this quiet but passionate man. His love of nature and the natural world translated itself into his art (he was an accomplished artist with pen and pencil) but mostly through the acoustic guitar and the purity of folk songs and folk music.
It is often said that Bert was influenced by jazz and blues music. This is because there are blues notes and bends in is playing style but Bert was not a jazz player and was not a natural improviser. His compositions required great patience to put together and did not simply roll from his fingers in a spontaneous flow of ideas. Bert often stayed round at my place in Putney where we enjoyed late nights over wine and chat. However, he was always up before me and I could hear him playing his guitar down stairs. Not playing actual pieces but composing.
Quotes from fans
My greatest inspiration and one of the reasons I took up guitar. I learned to play just about everything Bert did and some of them are real tours de force musically.Walter Paget
Bert is without a doubt one of the finest musicians the British Isles has ever produced. A true innovator and individual and a lovely man into the bargain.Anonymous
Jack Orion inspired me to stop shredding my Fender, and start playing acoustic guitar. I still own both but the acoustic has a lot more miles on it.Anonymous
Bert breaks rules, but they were rules which he meant to break and his music is all the richer for it. This music reminds me of the way a stream flows and eddies round the contours of the bank that guide it. Spiraling pools of liquid composition, forming, breaking and reforming as the body of the music flows. Thanks Bert. RIPAnonymous