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Al DiMeola - Land Of The Midnight Sun CD (album) cover


Al DiMeola


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.97 | 190 ratings

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5 stars After his two-year stint with Chick Corea's Return To Forever came to an end in early 1976, Al Di Meola, at the grand old age of twenty-one, decided to go it alone, issuing his thrilling solo debut 'Land Of The Midnight Sun' through Colombia Records later the same year. A technical marvel from beginning-to-end(and all the way in-between) Di Meola's first album found the New York-born guitarist delivering a fluid, electric jazz-fusion set, very much in the style of his work with Chick Corea, though with the latin, salsa and flamenco-influences that would dominate much of his later material largely absent. Featuring contributions from all three of his ex-Return To Forever bandmates - Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White - there is perhaps an argument for considering 'Land Of The Midnight Sun' as just another Return To Forever record, yet seasoned-Di Meola followers will quickly notice the guitarists fingerprints spread across almost every facet of the album, from the quicksilver guitar shredding, to the slick production values and the album's sheer level of technical excellence. Also featuring guest spots from Weather Report duo Alphonse Mouzon(drums) and Jaco Pistorious(bass, percussion), in- demand session player Anthony Jackson(bass) and Barry Miles(piano), the sheer volume of unbridled musical talent on display is nothing short of daunting, especially considering that Di Meola himself had only just turned twenty-two(!), but don't let that put you off. Playing and sounding like a musician who's been studying the guitar for decades, Di Meola's talent is indeed special, and despite playing with one of the great fusion groups of the 1970's, it was only on 'Land Of The Midnight Sun' that the guitarist finally managed to take centre stage, something that really had to happen if he was ever going to realise the full potential of his abilities. Wreathed in that glorious, almost cosmic ambience that only the jazz-fusion genre can summon, this debut ranks right up there with the other classic fusion albums of the 1970's, albums like Herbie Hancock's 'Crossings', 'We'll Talk About It Later' from British outfit Nucleus and Di Meola's own debut with Return To Forever, 1974's career-defining 'Where Have I Known You Before'. Picking highlights on an album as dense, complex and energetic as this is almost pointless, and there are at least three tracks that deserve to have the word 'great' attached to their description, yet the truth is that this is a superb album in virtually every sense. Opener 'The Wizard' deserves special mention for its blistering melodies and gutsy riffs, whilst the nine-minute title-track and the glorious 'Suite Golden Dawn' both take the listener on a rapid-fire journey through Di Meola's complex musical domain, his constant guitar attacks embellishing a variety of instrumental moods and textures conjoured up by the almost-as-brilliant line-up of fusion greats backing him up. Even the brief and subtle cover of Bach's 'Sarabande From Violin Sonata in B Minor' intrigues, giving the listener a brief acoustic time-out, whilst the beautiful and all-to-brief 'Love Theme From Pictures Of The Sea' leaves the listener desperately wanting more....

stefro | 5/5 |


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