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Thursday, September 14, 2006

CD REVIEW - Franco De Gemini - The Man with the Harmonica

Franco De Gemini - The Man with the Harmonica
All Score Media ASM 023 (Germany)
16 Tracks 45:28 mins

This very easy listening collection, released on 22nd September, serves as a tribute to the man whose harmonica graced many an Italian Western and a good few more films besides and is named after perhaps his most famous track, that composed by Ennio Morricone for the Sergio Leone classic Once Upon a Time in the West.
That track, which needs no introduction, provides a tremendous start to this collection, which largely consists of beat-driven, easy listening material, with a little jazz thrown in. De Gemini performs on most of the selections, and even composed a few, some in collaboration with that other distinctive voice, and sometime composer of the period Alessandro Alessandroni.
The first four selections are all for westerns, with the only vocal on the album being included, the song from Lallo Gori's Buckaroo, performed by the film's star Dean Read. All are highly enjoyable, as is the following "I Pendolari" by Bruno Nicolai, which wouldn't have been out of place itself in a western, with its lonely harmonica over travelling riff. "Cinzia," a bouncy mover, is Alessandroni's first contribution to the album and later selections from his work include the rhythmic disco mover "Big News" and the somewhat disjointed rhythm of "Black Widow."
De Gemini and Alessandroni combine as composers on three tracks, a couple of which are jazzy dance numbers, the other being a bouncy, easy-going track with vocal group support. De Gemini also has two of his solo compositions included; "Cos' e L'amore" is again easy-going with voices; whilst "Cheops and Nefertiti" is somewhat Burt Bacharach inspired, a fast-flowing jazzy pieces with the vocal group taking the lead.
In fact, all the selections have something to offer, with De Gemini's mastery of his instrument evident; all that is save for the concluding selection, Walter Rizzati's disco arrangement of the opening track, which I'm afraid should have been left in the vaults to hopefully crumble away to dust.
The disc is accompanied by a colourful booklet, with plenty of album artwork, which features Dietmar Bosch's overview of the composer and his career, completed with comments from the latter, taken from a 2004 interview. A very nice collection then, with more than half the tracks previously unreleased, and especially so for those partial to Italian music of the '60s and '70s.


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