Bert Jansch?s ground-breaking guitar playing, deeply affecting songwriting and dark, passionate voice have held audiences spellbound since the mid-sixties. Famously admired by Jimmy Page, Neil Young and Nick Drake, more recently young luminaries such as Noel Gallagher, Jarvis Cocker, Bernard Butler and Johnny Marr have paid homage to this unassuming but intensely revered master.
Bert began performing his unique synthesis of folk, blues and jazz on the folk club scene of the early 1960s, having hitch-hiked to London from his hometown of Edinburgh. The Marquee, the 100 Club and famous folk den Les Cousins in Soho were amongst the venues that played host to Bert?s talent. His first album, Bert Jansch (played on a borrowed guitar and recorded on a reel-to-reel tape deck in someone?s apartment) was legendarily sold to the Transatlantic label for ?100. When it was released in April 1965, Bert Jansch caused a sensation for its innovative guitar technique and powerful songs, and has been phenomenally influential ever since, cited by legions of guitar players (famous and otherwise) as a major inspiration. It still sells steadily today, some 39 years on.
Bert Jansch was followed by It Don?t Bother Me, and the also hugely influential Jack Orion. On that album, Bert was already exploring innovative treatments of the traditional folk ballad form, something he took further with Pentangle, the band he formed with John Renbourn, Jacqui McShee, Terry Cox and Danny Thompson. Pentangle made six albums and enjoyed an unprecedented degree of success for an acoustic band, even making the singles chart with ?Light Flight?, the theme from the BBC drama series, ?Take Three Girls?.
After Pentangle split in 1973, Bert returned to a prolific solo career. His 21st solo album, Crimson Moon, which saw him working for the first time with long-time fans Johnny Marr and Bernard Butler, appeared in 2000 to a torrent of press and TV attention. It was accompanied by a Channel 4 documentary, Dreamweaver, about Bert and his music (featuring appearances by Marr, Butler and more) and the publication by Bloomsbury of a major biography: Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival (Colin Harper). A double CD tribute album, People On The Highway: a Bert Jansch Encomium, featuring Bert?s songs specially recorded by other artists, was also released in 2000.
In 2001 Bert was awarded a BBC Radio 2 Lifetime Achievement Award (presented by Johnny Marr) at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Bert?s latest studio album, Edge of a Dream (featuring Bernard Butler, Hope Sandoval, Dave Swarbrick and Ralph McTell), was released in October 2002 to widespread critical acclaim across Europe. A single, On the Edge of a Dream (Rock Baby Rock) appeared in April 2003.
Much of Bert?s classic and prolific back catalogue has now been digitally remastered and sumptuously re-released by Sanctuary. The fabulously packaged reissues boast great sound quality, full and informative brand new sleevenotes and photographs together with facsimiles of all the original artwork. Some have extra bonus tracks. The reissue series culminated at the end of October 2003 with the long awaited first-time CD issue of the extraordinary instrumental album Avocet, one of the masterpieces of Bert?s career.
In November 2003 Bert celebrated his 60th birthday with a BBC TV Special shown on BBC4 on 21 November, and a triumphant sell-out birthday concert at London?s Queen Elizabeth Hall with special guests.
In a live setting, Bert?s performances are still a rare opportunity to see one of the British music scene?s true legends play. His understated, low key approach eschews hollow show business routines, and the audience is treated to a guitar playing master class and an impressive catalogue of some of the most emotive and haunting songs in the British canon.