|Dimensions||21 × 15 × 1.5 cm|
“Jenny’s Heaven” is a collection of songs and Australian tunes (played on fingerstyle guitar) to celebrate the life and wonderful work of the late Jenny Robinson. The tunes include the Mudgee Waltz, Country Living, Stan Tracy’s Polka, Jenny’s Dance, Australia, Wallaby Rocks, Freemantle Station, Orotoba Waltz, Wattle Flat Races, Turondale/Sofala, as well as, originals, and much more.
Gaetano Bevilacqua – Jenny’s Heaven
by Steve Borrow’
This is Gaetano’s first CD.
He has dedicated it to his late partner, Jenny, who died tragically on 3 August 2006 after a short, painful battle with lung cancer.
All of the tunes have a significant, if private, connection.
In the 17 tracks, Gaetano has been able to display his facility in a variety of folk related styles, employing a wide ambit of techniques and guitar tunings.
He sings on three of the tracks, but the rest are unaccompanied guitar solos.
These may be thought of as souvenirs of places Jenny and Gaetano visited together and the making of this CD has been part of the grieving process for him.
There was a time when anything seen in the sky was non-human, which is why our ancestors invested the celestial with a divine quality.
Now the heavens are crowded with guitar gods, which leads to odious comparisons every time a new guitar album is released.
But music is not always about supreme technical excellence. It can be about love and memory, as this album is.
Gaetano’s music speaks from the heart and unlike the prodigies of school men, there is none of the mechanical tedium you get from institutionalized musical education here: beautifully played perhaps, but soulless.
Listen closely and you will get to appreciate the remarkable originality in Gaetano’s playing.
It is the outcome of a lifetime of unadulterated, largely self directed study on his chosen instrument.
He has employed a number of different guitar tunings, which can simplify the chord patterns for particular keys, such as for G and D with the tunings used here.
But the musician is faced with the challenge of constructing the chord progressions from scratch. It is worth it.
The results can prove to be highly original and very satisfying indeed.
The Australian tunes have all been performed in DGDGAD, the lovely hymn “Come Children”, “Join to Sing”, “The Stan Tracy Polka”, “Little Brown Jug” and “The Mudgee Waltz” are all in DADGAD, one of Gaetano’s favourite configurations.
All others are played in standard guitar tuning.
“Sleep walk” is a nice stroll through the recesses of the unconscious mind, performed in the key of G.
Note the nice use of thumb to get a solid rhythmic bottom sound.
In “Cloudy”, Gaetano gives the vocal chords a workout.
The words are self explanatory and sung with resignation and sadness.
This is a heartfelt meditation on loss.
A nice variation in the rhythm and tempo is achieved with a walking bass thumb line.
“Waltzing Matilda” is a real waltz version of the unofficial Aussie anthem, suited to traditional bush dances.
It was composed by Marie Cowan in 1903.
“Country living” is a very appealing track.
It consists of three distinct parts formed into a coherent whole.
Gaetano begins it in standard tuning in G major, but it undergoes a key change in the middle section, composed by a mate of Gaetano, Manfred Rentz.
Gaetano gets to display some of the techniques he learned from listening to recordings of the greatest finger picker of them all, the late great Chet Atkins.
The inclusion of this famous 1928 Weill Brecht tune “Mac the Knife” from The Threepenny Opera might seem a strange inclusion among a collection of folk tunes, but the dark spectre is the cancer that Jenny succumbed to.
One of the main characters in the musical is Pirate Jenny who swears to exact revenge against those who have wronged her.
Stan Tracy’s “Polka and Little Brown Jug” is Gaetano’s salute to TS Eliot: a guitar version of “Rhapsody on A Windy Night”.
“Fremantle Station” is about a sheep station in outback NSW, not the Western Australian town where Bon Scott is buried and the America’s Cup was once conducted.
“The Mudgee Waltz” and the reprise are both beautifully played.
Perhaps the best performed tunes on the compilation.
There is deft gentle right hand guitar work, nuances and punctuated with technical skills that take a long time to master.
“Take it Easy” is a vocal celebration of freedom with a 1950s folk feel about it.
“Turondale and Sofala” is another terrific little performance.
It has a Scottish feel about it.
“Sing Children” is a delightful, optimistic hymn, which provides an uplifting counter balance to the more soulful tracks on the CD.
Note the lovely guitar fills between the vocals and the unison between the vocal line and the guitar.
Gaetano doesn’t have a forceful singing voice, but is able to create a full, pleasing sound by combining a shifting harmony to the main melody line and an alternating base.
It is, to a guitarist, something like juggling four balls.
I would like to see him perform this with children’s voices and mandolin and accordion accompaniment.
“Hangin’ Around” is a challenging, jazz influenced Michael Fix composition that also pays homage to Chet Atkins.
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