Michel Gentils is today one of the greatest specialists of the 12-string guitar. For 30 years he has developed techniques specially for this instrument; what is more, he has just finished writing his own teaching method. As he and Maurice Dupont have known each other a long time, it is understandable that Maurice suggested making an instrument especially for Michel, envisaging next the commercial production of a Michel Gentils signature model.
Michel Gentils has been travelling the world since has was 18 years old, finally discovering the 12-string guitars in the USA. His tour of America became a series of enriching encounters. In New Orleans, a friend of Léo Kottke, Nashville's Norman Blake, introduced Michel to country music whilst the San Fransisco group Jefferson Airplane exposed him to the West Coast Sound. There he turned professional and played his own compositions in cabaret. He returned to France in 1978 and recorded his first disc of guitar picking with Disc'AZ, using his 12-string guitar. Over the next few years he touched on rock music and played in a trio with a friend of Paco de Lucia, Marco de Almeira, an axcellent flamenco guitarist.
But his desire to travel returned and he left for India for a tour but above all to discover Indian music. He settled in Benares where he took singing lessons and learned the techniques of bridge-making for Indian stringed instruments with a craftsman. He ther adapted his guitar, creating the guitar-vina. He moved to Dharmsala, making friends with the teachers at the opera school founded by the Dalai Lama. With the school's director he adapted Tibetan songs for the guitar.
Returning to France in 1985, he met Charles Besnainou at the acoustic music Laboratory at Jussien. In the opinion of the latter, the guitar-vina wasn't an original idea, but he believed Michel had discovered a completely new sound.
Other collaborators included Ali Dede Altintas, one of the best representatives of Turkish music, the Calcutta percussionist Shyamal Maitra, playing his own compositions with him, as well as Sam Benzo, a singer and harmonica player with blues, jazz ans Eastern influences..
As time went on, Michel formed a duo with the singer Desireless, producing an album in 1998. Through Sylvain Gauthier he met the company Elixir which creates large-scale street spectacles. In 2006, after several solo albums, he issued a DVD, Michel Gentils in concert, recorded at the Moulin du Roc in Niort. The following yeay he created the spectacle Tenzin, fusing music, images and poetry.
This year, 2009, he has completed his 12-string guitar method which should appear at the end of the year.
Listen an extract :
"Live à l'ouest de la Grosne"
Deux manches à Parthenay
Visit his website : www.michelgentils.com
20 rue de Port-Boutiers
16100 Boutiers Saint-Trojan
(Cognac) - FRANCE
Monday to Thursday
8h30-12h30 AM & 14h-18h PM
8h30-12h30 AM & 14h-17h PM
Saturday on appointment
Office : 05 45 32 54 10
Quite our instruments are
Completely realized in
Our workshop of
Boutiers St Trojan - Cognac