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Alessandro Alessandroni & Nora Orlandi - Music For Strange Situations (2002)

The first Hexicord comp, including previously unreleased recordings by Alessandroni and 4 uncut suites by Nora Orlandi. Original music from the soundtrack of “Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh” (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh), not included in the OST release.Several of the tracks include “I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni”, with the participation of singers Edda Dell’orso, Gianna Spagnulo and Giulia De Mutiis.

The title of this comp definitely fits the sound. Alessandroni is best know for his whistling work with Ennio Morricone, but apparently he has made around 50 soundtracks and other albums himself. Alessandroni is a fuzztone guitar virtuoso, and many of his psychedelic moods can be found here on this album.

The tracks alter between the two Italian composers throughout the mix and take us deep into strange moods, psychedelic atmospheres, cocktail party jams and eerie choir arrangements. There isn’t really any filler on this disc if you ask me, both of these composers are very edgy and keep things fresh and spooky. (nature film)

Alessandro Alessandroni isn't a household name in popular or film music, but his contributions to the two fields have made his work among the most familiar of any musician to emerge since the 1950s. Born in Soriano nel Cimino, north of Rome, in 1925, Alessandroni never aspired to formal music training -- he was entirely self-taught, and started learning the guitar and the mandolin by listening to and watching the men who made music at the family's barber shop. He listened to classical music on his own and bought his first mandolin at age 13. He also discovered as a boy that in addition to being proficient on a multitude of stringed and keyboard instruments, he had an uncanny ability to whistle. By his early thirties, he was making a living touring Germany as a singer, pianist, and guitarist, and he later formed a group in Rome called the Four Caravels whose sound was modeled on the work of the Four Freshmen, and served as their arranger as well as leader. The multi-talented Alessandroni was soon to become one of the busier session musicians in Italy, and achieve stardom in a wholy unexpected musical idiom.

During the early '60s, Alessandroni crossed paths professionally with a slightly younger former boyhood friend, Ennio Morricone, who, after a few years as a musician working in jazz clubs, had begun to emerge in the field of movie music. Morricone had just scored his first Western and was working on another, and wanted to add some new sounds to his work. Alessandroni's guitar and his abilities as a whistler came to the fore on the resulting score for Guns Don't Argue, within the framework of a traditional Western ballad. But that success was merely a toe in the water in terms of their collaboration -- Morricone had another project in the pipeline, called A Fistful of Dollars (1964), a Western that was anything but traditional, and it was here that Alessandroni began collaborating with him in the making of some much more important music, and utilizing far more of his range as a guitarist as well.

With a lonely, echo-drenched whistle over a repetitive guitar figure, with added flutes, whip-cracks, and Alessandroni's Duane Eddy-style electric guitar coming in along with a wordless male chorus -- courtesy of Alessandroni's vocal group, now expanded to a dozen or more members and renamed I Cantori Moderni -- the haunting title track redefined the sound of Western movie music. Ironically, Alessandroni could almost have been the Brian Wilson of Italy -- he certainly made use of some of the same sources of inspiration, including the Four Freshmen and the twangy guitar of Duane Eddy or Dick Dale, that had led Wilson and the Beach Boys to their brand of surf music, but simply utilized them in a different combination that seemed somehow uniquely suited to the Western. Alessandroni subsequently worked with Morricone on most of the latter's Western scores of the period, including the gorgeous theme for A Pistol for Ringo -- which was a dazzling showcase for Alessandroni as a guitarist and I Cantori Moderni, in a hauntingly lyrical mode, far from their usual rough vocal fills on the Sergio Leone Western scores. He was all over the main title theme for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and his guitar and vocal group were also featured prominently on Once Upon a Time in the West. He and Morricone also worked on such non-Leone Westerns as A Gun for Ringo -- which was a dazzling showcase for his guitar and I Cantori Moderni's singing in a much more lyrical mode, in place of their usual rough fills in the Leone movies -- The Big Gundown, Navajo Joe, and the non-Western Without Apparent Motive. By the end of the 1960s, as Hollywood began noting the success that Leone was achieving with his Italian-made horse operas, the production of Westerns began anew in earnest in the United States, and the brief given composers such as Dominic Frontiere and others on movies such as Hang 'Em High was to emulate Morricone, which was also meant to emulate Alessandroni. Thus, American session players such as Tommy Tedesco ended up paying homage to the Rome-based guitarist who'd started out a fan of the Four Freshmen, Duane Eddy, and Dick Dale. And thanks to the continued interest in Morricone's scores and their durability as music, as well as the critical attention accorded Leone's movies, Alessandroni remains one of the most prominent and influential musicians ever to play on film scores or, through that medium, to influence popular music around the world. Over the decades since his music was popularized in film music, Alessandroni has worked with dozens of star performers, including Americans such as Paul Anka, and most of Italy's top talent. --- Bruce Eder, AllMusic

Interview by John Mansell

Where and when were you born ?

I was born in Voghera (Lombardia), Italy on the 28th of June 1933.

What musical education to you have ?

I studied at the academy of music in Voghera (Conservatorio).

Did you come from a musical family background ?

My mother, Fanny Miriam Campos, was a great lyric singer. My father and my brother were merely passionate for music, while my sister is a singer too. She worked with me as soloist and vocalist in both my two groups: the 2+2 and the 4+4. As for my present family, my husband is my most precious collaborator: he helps me in everything.. . last September we celebrated 50 years of marriage! I have 2 sons and at least 5 nephews, aged from 7 up to 22.

You began primarily as a singer in a group with Alessandroni, when did you decide to form your own singing group ?

To tell the truth the group was mine… and I gave to Alessandroni the possibility to join! He was one of my first vocalists. Subsequently I had the pleasure to work with Massimo Cini, one of my vocalists for 30 years, and also there is Enzo Gioieni, who I have worked and performed with since almost the start of my career.

You have worked with many composer on film scores, who would you say was the most enjoyable to work with ?

Every composer or performer I have worked with I have enjoyed collaborating with, my collaborations have always been undertaken with enthusiasm and positivity, independently from the composer or the film. Passion is something you have inside and I merely offered it to everyone that called me to work.

What was your first film score, and how did you progress from a performer to a composer ?

In 1953–54, at the age of 20, I composed my first film score: “Non Vogliamo Morire”.
I really don’t remember the day I became a singer professionally: it is too far away!
Do you conduct all of your own music, or do you sometimes have a conductor ?

No, on the contrary: my scores have always been directed by someone else more famous than me... for example Paolo Ormi and Robbie Poitevin.
Besides I was busy with many other projects, and did not have enough time available to conduct my own music.

Do you think enough of your music from film has been released onto LP or CD?

I haven’t never paid much attention to that matter. Soundtracks are only the 30% of my work, the rest was compounded by various performances, TV and radio-phonic shows, advertising spots... Moreover I took part in about 15 San Remo music Festival’s.

How do you work out your musical ideas, do you utilize a piano or do you work with a synthesizer ?

I utilize neither a piano nor a synthesizer. I compose without any instrument and only at the end I check what I wrote (generally with a piano): only Mozart could write without checking!

How many times do you normally watch a movie before you start to get any fixed ideas about where the music will be placed and what style of music you will employ ?

Most of the times you must ask expressly to watch the film. Often it is sufficient to watch some parts of it, only one time, to understand the more suitable musical style. The music must be a “sound photography”, parallel to the images, it depends really on each individual project.

How long did you normally get to work on a film score, maybe you could use THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH as an example.?

It depends from the kind of the job… I don’t exactly remember how much time I got to work on a singular film score. Perhaps it is too difficult to quantify it because I could not devote so much time to a sole work. As I have already said, soundtracks are not my priority, even though they are a way of artistic expression that I have a particular passion for myself .

Do you prefer to work on a particular type or genre of movie, or are you happy working on all types of subject matter?

I am happy working on any type of film, because it is always a very interesting artistic experience. As spectator I love very much thrillers... but unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to do many of these.

Have you ever had a score rejected, or have had to do a rush job on a film after another score had been discarded ?

Thankfully, this has never happened, I am very fortunate.

What do you think of the film music of today?

In my opinion the film music of today is generally good… however, if it is music from yesterday or of today it is always film music: a “light” entertainment! This kind of music isn’t a committed artwork, but a “light” artwork with a specific beauty.

Would you say that you were influenced by any composers in particular, classical or film music composers ?

No, not really. For me to write music that is influences by another composer would be very much like plagiarism, of course it is possible for this to be done unconsciously.

When a soundtrack recording is released on record or compact disc do you have any input into what music will go onto that release?

When one of my soundtracks is released on record or CD, certainly I am very glad, but I’m not interested to intervene in the track’s selection. Once I finished my work of music composition I spend my time with other projects. I’m very busy!

Do you orchestrate all of your scores yourself ?

No, I don’t. It depends by the situation, the needs…and, most of all, by the time I can spend in it, so sometimes I work on them myself other times not.

Are you working on anything at the moment ?

Personally I’m busying myself with some very interesting teaching projects... But I always take into consideration what people offer to me.

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