Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gino Bordin and the Hawaiian guitar: 1930s Paris

Gino Bordin and the Hawaiian guitar: 1930s Paris ( English) Gino Bordin en de Hawaïgitaar: Parijs jaren dertig (Nederlands) Gino Bordin: Virtuoso of the Hawaiian Guitar ( English) Gino Bordin : Hawaï-gitaar virtuoos (Nederlands)

La guitare venue du paradis
Jørgen Larsen

GrassSkirt records released a great album with reissues of 1930s recordings by the French, Italian born, Hawaiian guitar player Gino Bordin. This reissue is entitled Gino Bordin - virtuoso de la Guitare Hawaiiene( 1930s Paris) and contains two dozens of tracks recorded during the 1930s by this famous, but now almost forgottten, virtuoso on the guitar Gino Bordin: a great album dedicated to the Hawaiian guitar. Jørgen Larsen introduces us, in two extensive contributions, to Gino Bordin's early career, up to his most famous years - the period of successes during the 1930s, to his death, almost forgotten, in 1977. In a second contribution, recent reissues of Gino Bordin musical legacy and his colleagues will be reviewed, including the Gino Bordin - virtuoso de la Guitare Hawaiiene record. This album can be obtained at GrassSkirt records.
With the rise of record companies and radio music of Hawaii spread all over the world during the first three decades of the 20th century. Native musicians of Hawaii, like Sol Hoopii, Lani McIntire, Tau Moe, Sam Ku West a.o., helped bringing the sound of steel guitars and ukuleles to the attention of a larger public through records, broadcasts and live performance outside the islands, radio stations all over the USA soon played records by Hawaiian artists and Hollywood supported the fad by producing the successful movie Bird of Paradise with make-believe exotic sceneries from the far South Sea islands. However, the Hawaiian hype was not just another American popular trend in show-biz, the whole world was smitten by the sound of Hawaiian music and musicians all over started to play guitars by sliding a steel bar over the strings. In the proces the music gradually changed. Every time the craze hit a new region or country, the popular music of the day and place was adapted to the instrument imitating the original Hawaiian sound. One of the pioneers in creating an European repertoire adapted to the Hawaiian guitar was Gino Bordin.
Gino Bordin (- originally: Bordino) was born 1899 in Vicenza, Northern Italy. As a young man he already played guitar, Hawaiian guitar, musical saw and 6-string banjo with local bands and became friends with Mario Maccaferri, who was learning to build guitars and later handcrafted his successful instruments for the Selmer company. In 1926 he left Italy for France like many other Italians at the time. His debut as a professional musician in Paris, however, was not easy as he did not read music fluently, but he was already playing so well on many instruments that he soon found work in orchestras or as a solo act. He first appeared at casinos in Monte Carlo, and then in numerous cabarets, restaurants and music halls of Paris. He accompanied musette accordionists on 6-string banjo, played Spanish guitar in tango-bands and the Hawaiian guitar in spectables imitating Hawaiian culture. During this period he met Margueríte Pepin, a young dancer, who was to become his partner in life.
Gino Bordin's first recordings on banjo and guitar were sideman sessions with musette accordionists like Louis Ferrari, Frédo Gardoni and Léon Raiter. He also accompanied popular vocalists of the time, for a while he was the guitar player for Tino Rossi and toured with him through Europe and North Africa in 1938. He also composed a couple of Rossi's hit songs. As a composer, Bordin wrote several other popular hits, often teaming with acclaimed lyricists, and he maintained an enduring collaboration with the composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and conductor Boris Sarbek. His first recording as a Hawaiian guitarist was made for Pathé in 1928, an interpretation of Youmans' Hallelujah by Bordin's Hawaiian Trio. The record marked the beginning of his prodigious career on the Hawaiian guitar. The total number of his recordings on Hawaiian guitar under his own name or under various pseudonyms is considerable. Bordin recorded for all major record companies like Odeon, Pathé and Parlophone and he was featured in radio programs and toured as a Hawaiian guitarist throughout Europe and met success all over in the 1930s. He also contributed to the improvement and evolution of the Hawaiian guitar. In 1931 he was the first to add an extra bass string to the instrument helping him to evolve new tuning possibilities. He inspired Mario Maccaferri to build a 7-string Hawaiian model for the Selmer company. In 1934 he was the first to play the electric lap steel guitar in France. At his request Maccaferri had brought back from the USA the 7-string National electric lap steels for him.
Bordin was also a notable teacher and in 1935 he published a method for the 7-string Hawaiian guitar followed by anthologies of arrangements for the instrument. He gave lessons at his home in Paris, in schools and on radio, an activity he continued until near the end of his life.

By the end of the 1930s Bordin had become a star with his own shows on French radio and also a star in Holland and Germany. During the occupation of France 1940-44 he enjoyed continued popularity, he managed to work in Parisian hotels and nightclubs, but the liberation of France in 1944 marked the end of his days as a star attraction. New sounds and a modern style in music on the Parisian scene were in vogue, Bordin struggled to find work and further suffered a severe heart attack. Slowly recovering he put together a trio of Hawaiian guitars in 1949 that accompanied popular singers and actors, he also continued publishing arrangements and teaching, from time to time records were made, but his glory days were over. He retired from music to the South of France and after several stays at hospital in Marseille he passed away July 1977

To end this first part I love to share with you a film fragment featuring a contemporary trio performing of Gino Bordin's composition Caresses Venitiennes

In a second contribution I love to inform you about his musical legacy reissued.
Jørgen Larsen

With the publication of The Pacific Journal of Monsieur de Bougainville, Western men learned that he had discovered the place where Paradise on earth was to be found, on the opposite side of the world in the South Pacific (liner notes). Gino Bordin, Italian born, shared with his Hawaiian guitar
the music of paradise. His star raised and from a celebrity during the 1930s he felt into obscurity in the decades that followed after the Second World War. Keep Swinging loves to point you to these neglected musicians. Don't miss it -
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