Although guitarists Gérard Marais and Raymond Boni have kept their duo alive since its inception in 1973, it is unfortunate that it has rarely been documented. Finally released in 2001, La Belle Vie captures a 1981 performance and is a welcome addition to both musicians' catalogs. While the music consists of long improvisations, it remains fairly accessible and uplifting, for original themes and melodies by Charlie Chaplin or Django Reinhardt are used as springboards. Both musicians keep the music flowing and move seamlessly from one mood to the next. Whether they get emotional, delve into sonic explorations, or sculpt beautiful landscapes, their rich dialogue never meanders. One does not need to be familiar with any of the guitarists to differentiate them. Gérard Marais' playing is somewhat more traditional, with rock-ish accents and soaring lines bringing him more to the fore. Boni displays a dazzling and dense flamenco-like phrasing, which allows him to cover an incredibly wide range of dynamics, sometimes in a blink. The set concludes on a colored and more peaceful note with a short solo piece by Raymond Boni, "Le Rêveur au Fil d'Or," which illustrates his sense of humor. This constantly fascinating set full of poetry is a fine introduction to the world of each guitarist.
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AllMusic Review by Alain Drouot