Gino Paoli

Everyone thinks he’s from Genoa, and in a way he is, Gino Paoli, singer-songwriter who wrote some of the most beautiful pages of last century’s Italian music. But actually the author of “Senza fine” and “Sapore di sale” was born on September 23rd 1934 in Monfalcone.
It’s in Genoa however, where he moved to as a child, that Gino Paoli, after working as a stagehand, commercial artist and painter putting together more prizes than money, debuts as a dance hall singer, then starts a band with his friends Luigi Tenco and Bruno Lauzi. Until the glorious label Ricordi, that had “christened” Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, decides to extend its activity to pop music and signs with this strange meowing voice singer. In the Sixties he writes “La gatta”, a rigorously autobiographical piece: it speaks of the attic at sea where Gino lived. The album sold 119 copies, then it disappears only to reappear unexpectedly as a 100 thousand copies per week success.

In the meantime a love story with Ornella Vanoni began, a singer discovered by Giorgio Strehler, who convinces Gino to write “Senza fine” for her, thanks to which she became famous. Afterwards Mina, though many discourage her, records “Il cielo in una stanza” with the result that we all know.
Followed by “Sassi”, “Me in tutto il mondo” ('61), “Anche se” ('62), “Sapore di sale”, “Che cosa c'è” ('63), “Vivere ancora” ('64), all tracks that became classics and have been translated in many languages.

Gino Paoli gives life with his “four friends”, in Genoa, to the “canzone d’autore” (the songwriter’s song), revolutionary musical expression that tries to express feelings and real life facts through an unconventional language; the song stops being pure entertainment and abandons the oleograph to become all round art form.
By now the penniless painter is a famous singer. The previous year had seen an actual boom with “Sapore di sale”, arranged by Ennio Morricone with the participation of Gato Barbieri on sax. Nevertheless one summer afternoon the songwriter points a Derringer to his heart. “I wanted to see what happens” he explains afterwards. The bullet is still in his chest, as a souvenir.

In the meantime Paoli discovers and launches other artists: Lucio Dalla, jazz clarinet player, of whom he produces the first album, or the reluctant Fabrizio De André, “forced” to sing with him at the Circolo della Stampa of Genoa. It happens that the most varied interpreters lay hold of the paolian songbook: legends of the Fifties like Claudio Villa, Carla Boni, Jula De Palma, Joe Sentieri, opera singers like Anna Moffo, actresses such as Lea Massari and Catherine Spaak, icons of the Sixties like Umberto Bindi, Luigi Tenco, Gianni Morandi. Later on Gino Paoli’s music will involve other famous singers such as Patty Pravo and Franco Battiato. And the important collaboration in the Eighties with Zucchero, a young man at his debut, that will contribute to the latter’s success.

But as celebrity grows, a crisis makes its way within the man-Paoli, that will drive him away from scene for some years of meditation.
The great return of Paoli arrives with two anarchist and brave albums, which especially the younger audience identifies with. The first one, published in the mid-Seventies, has an emblematic title, “I semafori rossi non sono Dio” (“Red traffic lights are not God”), and it was written on music composed by the Catalan Jean Manoel Serrat.
The second one is published in ’77, three years later, and is entitled “Il mio mestiere” (“My job”). Both speak of freedom, democracy, marginalization, diversity. 
This growth keeps marking all of his records for the next two decades. The triumphant tour in 1985 follows, with Ornella Vanoni, then the experience as congressman of the Pci (Italian Communist Party), then PDS (Leftwing Democratic Party) and that of council member of Arenzano.

The following autumn “Senza contorno, solo... per un'ora” is published, a live recording of his repertoire in a jazz tone, with the unreleased “Senza contorno” and “La bella e la bestia” (“Beauty and the Beast”), sung by Gino and his daughter Amanda Sandrelli, drawn from the soundtrack of the Disney movie. Paoli had however already dealt with the cinema business when, for Bertolucci’s “Prima della rivoluzione”, he composed “Vivere ancora” and “Ricordati”, and also when he wrote “Una lunga storia d'amore” (1984) and “Da lontano” (1986), the former for the movie “Una donna allo specchio" and the latter for "La sposa americana", both starring Stefania Sandrelli.

In those years he publishes records with a content coming from his vast humane experience: “La luna e mister Hyde” and “Averti addosso” (1984), “Cosa farò da grande” (1986), “L’ufficio delle cose perdute” (1988), and also “Ciao salutime un po’ Zena”, dedicated to the Ligurian song, “Ha tutte le carte in regola”, and the homage to the perished singer and songwriter from Livorno, Piero Ciampi, “Matto come un gatto” (1991). In '91 come the incredible success with “Matto come un gatto” and the single “Quattro amici al bar” (with the participation of Vasco Rossi).
In the spring of 1993, “King Kong” and, two years later, “Amori dispari” where he returns to state the supremacy of sentiments in a world that denies them.
In “Appropriazione indebita” the singer takes a handful of international song classics and translates in somewhat of a self portrait, pages of Lennon, Cat Stevens, Aznavour, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. “Pomodori” (1998) and “Per una storia” (2000) new pages from a man who, under his white hair, never stops pursuing innocence, awe and the fantasy of an eternal child.
In 2002 comes a new album of unreleased pieces, “Se”, the single “Un altro amore” is presented at the 52° Festival of Sanremo, where he gains a great success both from audience and critics, confirming him as an authentic protagonist of the Italian musical scene, always able to renew himself, but maintaining forms and contents of the “canzone d’autore” that have always distinguished him.

The great event “Pavarotti and Friends”, in 2002, sees him on stage with icons such as James Brown, Sting, Lou Reed, Grace Jones, Zucchero, Bocelli, to seal the social commitment of which he has always been spokesperson. The year ends with more than 70 concerts held with the rhythm-symphony Orchestra Dimi in Italy’s greatest theatres and in the most striking open spaces.
In 2004, once again in Sanremo, he is awarded for Lifetime Achievement. In that same year he performs in some of the most important Italian Jazz Festivals with “Un incontro di jazz” together with his friends  Enrico Rava, Danilo Rea, Rosario Bonaccorso, Flavio Boltro and Roberto Gatto, approaching this sophisticated musical genre, one of his greatest passions.

In 2007 he also publishes the album “Milestones. Un incontro in jazz” in which he sings, and he works on the project completely with many live concerts among which the one at Teatro Coliseo of Buenos Aires in December of that same year, when he received a true ovation from the 2500 people present and an enthusiastic welcoming by the Argentinean press.
In 2009 he celebrates his 50 year long career with the album “Storie”, he returns on the Sanremo stage as a guest, and later duets with the First Lady Carla Bruni in a delicate “Le ciel dans ma chambre”, French version of “Il cielo in una stanza”, in the collection “Senza fine”.
In the last years he releases his passion for jazz with the project – album and tour – in which he figures as singer: “Milestones. Un incontro in jazz”, with the greatest Italian jazz musicians Enrico Rava, Danilo Rea, Rosario Bonaccorso, Roberto Gatto and Flavio Boltro. With them in 2011 he releases “Auditorium Recording Studio”. In the same year he’s involved with the traditional May 1st Concert with a very original version of “Va’ Pensiero” accompanied by the La Sinfonietta Orchestra. In December, following a tragic flood in Genoa, he organizes and promotes “Una Mano per Genova – a fundraising live concert for his city, with the great names of Italian music.
In 2012, Gino Paoli, along with the pianist Danilo Rea, gives birth to the project “Due come noi che…”, the new album published by Parco della Musica Records, and the tour with which the two artists are already collecting sold outs nonstop, holding concerts from the most prestigious stages in Italy and abroad.