- Ennio Morricone "Dear Franco, the way you are playing the harmonica is, once more time, worthy of the movie and of the musical idea accompanying it."/>
  Jean Labre (photos M. Vicent-Roubert)All the Harmonicas
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Franco de Gemini - The Moovie Soundtrack Music
"Caro Franco, La tua esecuzione con l'armonica è, ancora una volta, degna del film e dell'idea musicale che l'accompagna. Grazie encora." - Ennio Morricone
"Dear Franco, the way you are playing the harmonica is, once more time, worthy of the movie and of the musical idea accompanying it. Thank you again." - Ennio Morricone

The mouth organ has often been courted by movies directors as an essential ingredient closely involved with movies. It sometime happens that the music has more intensity than the picture on the screen. Being a musician, I'll never complain about this situation.
The movie soundtrack has been celebrated last January in the honor of Franco De Gemini during the Midem Festival (international music publishers and records business convention) in Cannes, France.

Click to see enlarged image.

Franco de Gemini is the example of an artist who has not got a wellknown name, even though millions of people around the world have come accross his work. Even many films-goers are not aware of De Gemini's name. And yet, they have heard De Gemini's haunting harmonica playing in the most dramatic moments of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, Once Upon In The West. The score was written by an other italian, Ennio Morricone, who have received a Career Oscar at the Academy Awards Ceremony in February.
De Gemini who, like his friend Morricone, is a couple ot years short of his 80th birthday, has played on over 800 soundtracks which means more than 8600 hours of recording sessions, and for this, he surely deserves to have his name in the Guiness Book of Records.

Click to see enlarged image.

In order to celebrate the label 40th birthday, he has published a book* entitled : From Beat to Beat /Memoirs Of The Man Of The Harmonica, 40 Years of Music and Cinema as Experienced by Franco De Gemini. The book is accompanied by a 77 minutes compilation CD : Dream Of Music (with harmonica themes but not only), and is written at the same time in Italian and English. This enables De Gemini, who is a born raconteur, to share with the reader,some of his more entertaining musical memories.
You may order this book at :
http://www.beatrecords.it
information : .

Composers, producers, movies stars, Franco has been moving in the very best of the movie system for more than a half century : Joe d'Amato, Visconti, Vittorio de Sica, Sergio Leone, Ennio Morricone, Henri Mancini, Italo Zingarelli, Leonard Bernstein... Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Charles Bronson, and his double the french actor Lino Ventura, etc. As many celebrities, as many movies success : Once Upon in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, My Name is Trinity, Dead in Venezia, Manhattan, Bread, Love and Fantasy, Mission Cobra, The Battle of England, Holocauste, "The Ruffian, West Side Story recorded in 1985 in Roma, direction Leonard Bernstein, etc.

A CD "Franco De Gemini – The Man With The Harmonica has been recently produced in Germany (label "All Score Media", catalogue N° ASM 023). Including The Man of The Harmonica (2 versions) and many other unforgettable pieces. We discover successively a great player, a great director, a great producer... and sometime the three at the same time !
You may order this CD at :
http://www.allscore.de or .

In a recent interview realised by Bayern 11 Radio (Germany), Franco De Gemini related the story of the record session of "The Man of the Harmonica" : " I had a very pleasant time with Ennio Morricone during the record session of The Man Of The Harmonica. When I arrived in the studio he had already recorded the base of the score. He told me : — Do you know the story of the film ? (Sergio Leone had already described me the story). You have just to play 3 notes ! — Is that so ? This is more difficult than a Mozart concerto ! Where is the score ? – There is no score, you have just 3 notes and you play as you feel it, with your harmonica ! I told him : — The actor has his hands tied in his back ! How can he move his hands for playing harmonica ? — That's where we have to follow the scenario, the harmonica jamed between his teeth, he has hardly the possibility to play more than 3 notes ! Well, I played 3 notes... everyone knows what happened next."

Franco de Gemini is always attentive to the harmonica life. He remains faithful to the "Club Harmonicisti Torinesi" spirit he founded during the fifties. I met him in several circumstances, as many opportunities to share a passion with a great musician and a so kind man. During the Midem Franco confided us : "I'll die first, then, I'll think about retiring"...
Franco de Gemini is not the only harmonica player to distinguish himself in movies soundtracks. We all have in memory a long list of harmonica players who won awards in this so thrilling speciality : Jerry Adler, may be the first to be admitted in the so exclusive Hollywood world, followed by is brother Larry who won an Oscar award in 1953 for "Geneviève", Tommy Morgan who has recorded soundtracks for more than 500 films, Toot's Thielemans, Pete Pedersen, Richard Hayman, Charlie Mc Coy, Eddy Gordon, Albert Raisner, William Galison, René Gary... And I beg your pardon if I am forgetting many other friends.
"Le Grisbi", "Le Riffifi", "The Man With The Harmonica", "La Manon des Sources", "Bagdad Cafe" and so many other timeless successes are engraved in the memory of the public. A very good reason for the directors to go on courting the mouth organ.

Jean Labre

* Franco de Gemini has recorded his first soundtrack movie "Bread Love and Fantasy" in 1950.
Photos : Beat Records (painting portrait Sandro Symeoni).
Published February 23rd 2007

 

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