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Al Di Meola - The Best of Al Di Meola: Manhattan Years CD (album) cover


Al Di Meola


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.53 | 7 ratings

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4 stars For those who missed Al Di Meola's acoustic/synth period while on Capitol's Manhattan label, this is just about as perfect a summation of that era one could hope for. Between 1985 and 1987, Di Meola made a quiet but confident turn toward a deeper expression of his amazing talents by composing from a more introspective place. Taking revelry in his love of acoustic music but allowing relaxed washes of synthesizer to play about in the pieces, he created a new sound for himself and, consequently, a new kind of music.

The collection starts with the upbeat pop number 'July', but 'Traces of a Tear' from his great 'Cielo e Terra' album puts things squarly on path. 'Maraba' from the Tirami Su session with its South American flavors and beautiful vocals is a haunting ballad... and then the real fire begins. With the help of his fine band, keyboardist Kei Akagi, drummer Tommy Brechtlein, bassists Anthony Jackson and Harvey Schwartz, and Mino Cineilu on percussion, Di Meola acoustically reinterprets Chick Corea's opus 'Song to the Pharoah Kings' with amazing power, a deft arrangement and delicate treatment. The solo is one of his most blistering and percussive machine-gunners, and the piece moves along effortlessly with rollercoaster thrills and hot Latin jams where all members shine bright. 'Etude' follows, a delicious solo performance on acoustic guitar, at once composed and improvised for seven minutes and a must hear for Di Meola lovers. 'Rhapsody of Fire' continues the hypnotic charm of this period with a joyus and complex Brazilian spirit. Keith Jarrett's 'Coral' is a sweet respite and 'Beijing Demons' refreshes with electronics, rock rhythms and some drop-dead playing from the master. This short interlude in Mr. Di Meola's career reflected remarkable inspiration and passion, and accomplished a flawless blend of South American fire with the soothing calm of the desert at night. His finest compilation and a thoroughly satisfying experience.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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