Rinaldo’s libretto, based on Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, relates the siege of Jerusalem, during the first Crusade, by the Christian army lead by Godefroy de Bouillon. In this production, Goffredo is a preacher – nice suit and white teeth – who seems to be in conflict with the vamp Armida and her night club called “Gerusalemme”. Argante is the Saracen bouncer of the night club and particularly resistant to Goffredo’s speech. Almirena, Goffredo’s daughter, is a good looking maid who appears looking like a sort of Jeanne d’Arc but rapidly changes into a pom-pom girl. She is lusted after by Armida for her night club and is used by her father to manipulate or at least to motivate Rinaldo – an Eliott Ness or Dick Tracy like hero. Note that Almirena’s capture, which precedes and triggers Rinaldo’s famous lament “Cara sposa”, looks like a tribute to Hitchcock’s Birds.
Pinchgut Opera, based in Sydney and founded in 2002, specializes in Baroque and Classical opera, featuring works such as Semele, The Fairy Queen, Idomeneo, and Orfeo. One of its more obscure repertoire choices is Marc-Antoine Charpentier's 1688 David & Jonathan. It's a work that's rarely performed or recorded, so this fine performance is revelatory.
One of the most enigmatic figures in rock history, Scott Walker was known as Scotty Engel when he cut obscure flop records in the late '50s and early '60s in the teen idol vein. He then hooked up with John Maus and Gary Leeds to form the Walker Brothers. They weren't named Walker, they weren't brothers, and they weren't English, but they nevertheless became a part of the British Invasion after moving to the U.K. in 1965. They enjoyed a couple of years of massive success there (and a couple of hits in the U.S.) in a Righteous Brothers vein. As their full-throated lead singer and principal songwriter, Walker was the dominant artistic force in the group, who split in 1967. While remaining virtually unknown in his homeland, Walker launched a hugely successful solo career in Britain with a unique blend of orchestrated, almost MOR arrangements with idiosyncratic and morose lyrics. At the height of psychedelia, Walker openly looked to crooners like Sinatra, Jack Jones, and Tony Bennett for inspiration, and to Jacques Brel for much of his material. None of those balladeers, however, would have sung about the oddball subjects – prostitutes, transvestites, suicidal brooders, plagues, and Joseph Stalin – that populated Walker's songs.
What a surprise to have stumbled upon this CD by percussionist David Earle Johnson, who doesn't seem to have many albums in print, let alone much of a solo discography. Granted, the co-billing of Jan Hammer (a mover and shaker during the heyday of jazz-rock fusion) on the CD cover may have convinced me that there was some worth to buying "Hip Address", but the music itself turned out to be rather good for the most part.
Orignally released in 1980, "Hip Address" builds on the jazz-rock fusion Hammer created with both the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck, adding a more percussive feel to it courtesy of Johnson. Hammer and Johnson play all instruments, with Hammer playing drums in addition to his multiple keyboards.