EL PURO

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EL PURO MUSIC BY ALESSANDRO ALESSANDRONI, WAS DUE TO BE RELEASED A WHILE AGO, BUT BECAUSE OF COPYRIGHT ISSUES IT HAS BEEN POSTPONED. These are the notes I wrote for the CD release.

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Alessandro Alessandroni, is a name that is synonymous with the world of Italian film music, he is not only a performer and leader of the famous IL CANTORI MODERNI but he is also a gifted, talented and highly innovative composer. It is probably true to state that Alessandroni has been involved with 99 percent of the film scores that came out of Italy between 1964 and up to the late 1980,s. His style is distinctive as a performer with his instantly recognisable whistle being the Maestros trademark sound. He is a gifted guitar player and also performed Sitar, piano and mandolin on many occasions and provided vocals on so many soundtracks it is difficult to comprehend this maestros boundless contributions to the art of film music.

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His collaboration with artists such as Edda Dell Orso is well known and of course he was the preferred whistler, guitarist and choir master of composers such as Armando Trovajoli, Francesco de Masi, Piero Umiliani, Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai, as well as working with many other composers such as Nico Fidenco, Gianni Ferrio, Marcello Giombini, Gianni Marchetti and Giacamo dell Orso to name but a few. His range is vast and his musical prowess towering. Born in Soriano nel Cimino which is a short distance from Rome, as a young performer Alessandroni would completely and totally concentrate upon the folk music traditions of the Lazio area of Italy. Assisted by a friend he began to learn the basics of the guitar and learnt chords that would act as a foundation for the rest of his musical education, as a teenager he acquired his first mandolin and then began to listen to classical music but by the time he was in his last years of school he had mastered the instrument and formed his own band which would perform at dances and other functions. He soon became familiar with various instruments and would play these with confidence, they included Accordion, Guitar, Bass Tuba and Tenor Sax.

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It was the Tenor Sax and his first encounters with Jazz that convinced him that it was music he wanted to take up as a career, he then toured Europe performing in various clubs as a singer and pianist. After his tour of Europe he returned to Italy and formed a singing group, THE FOUR CARAVELS and performed on a popular Italian TV show CANZONISSIMA, it was at this time that a childhood friend who was also a composer asked him to collaborate on the soundtrack to a western movie, the film was A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and the composer was of course Ennio Morricone. It was at the request of Morricone that the group of singers was expanded to become 16 in number and renamed IL CANTORI MODERNI. The rest as they say is history, Alessandroni went on to work on hundreds of film scores as performer and choir master but also began to compose his own film scores and in his illustrious career has been responsible for penning over fifty soundtracks for both film and television.

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He soon gained a reputation for being a consummate and highly polished and professional artist, but even after working on so many projects and in essence creating the sound along with Morricone that would become established as the style and musical persona of the Italian Western genre, Alessandroni still remains unaffected and modest stressing that he is a performer and not a star the stars are the composers.

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This recording is the first release of the actual film score from the western EL PURO ( LA TAGLIA E TUA…L’UOMO L’AMMAZZO IO) (1969), there was a re recording released which featured Alessandroni many years ago which contained an extended suite of music from the movie, but these are the original session recordings. The central theme is very much in the style of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS with underlying influences of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY with the core theme being whistled flawlessly by the composer and accompanied by harmonica and organ with the added support of a galloping percussion that is bolstered by choir and interspersed by barking male voices and electric guitar that are all underlined and tied together with strings. In fact I suppose that one could refer to this as text book Spaghetti western. The theme which is primarily a five note motif is repeated throughout the score either performed in whistling form or given a rendition on electric guitar. There is also a secondary theme in the form of a lilting and romantic sounding Spanish guitar solo that is enhanced with subdued sounding organ both this and the core theme for the soundtrack make appearances throughout in various arrangements the main theme being given a slower tempo at times and performed by harmonica and aided by a scattering of brass.

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Directed by Edoardo Mulargia, EL PURO starred genre stalwart Robert Woods, his character is something of a down and out at the beginning of the movie, he is a drunk and hiding away in a small border village scared of his own shadow and portraying himself as an individual that fears everything even his own shadow. What we learn as the movie opens up is that in fact the Woods character is a famous gunslinger who is hiding away from the many would be gunfighters that want to make a name for themselves by killing him. So he hides away in a perpetual state of intoxication in the hope that it will shield him from being found. His only support and compassion coming from a saloon girl Rosie played with conviction and warmth by Rosalba Neri who has recognised him, she decides to help him and takes him in to get him back to health in the hope that they can make a life together. Unbeknown to Rosie and El Puro a sadistic gang leader Gypsy portrayed by Marco Fiorini under the alias of Ashburn Hamilton jnr, who has recently escaped prison arrives in the village with his band of cutthroats looking for El Puro not knowing how low he has sunk too, Gypsy is determined to find him and kill him for his own pleasure and collect the 1.000 dollar reward that is still on his head.

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This is where we can draw comparisons with FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE as Gypsy is in many ways similar to El Indio the villain of that piece. Rosie is killed by Gypsy and his gang and it is now time for El Puro to return to avenge her. Its not a classic Spaghetti western but it certainly has some interesting twists and turns and there is no doubt it is an entertaining example within the genre.

John Mansell Movie Music International.(ifmca).

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