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Al Di Meola - Casino CD (album) cover

CASINO

Al Di Meola

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.84 | 105 ratings

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Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Di Meola continues his evolution, and the results are for the most part positive. It seems that there is considerable consensus so far on this album (myself included): Casino is a solid album, but it just isn't quite as catchy, energetic, or charming as his masterpiece, Elegant Gypsy. That should by no means keep you away from this album if you like Mediterranean-style and flamenco music. However, di Meola is clearly moving away from rocking fusion, and for some that is an improvement--for me, Casino represents a movement toward generally less progressive (and less interesting) music.

Chasin' the Voodoo. This is really the only rocker on the album, and of course that means it's the highlight for me. Beginning with some Santana-esques congas leading to a thunderous riff and staccato picking, this tune is a great mix of up-tempo fusion between Miles' keys, the drum/conga percussion duo, and di Meola's energetic guitar.

Egyptian Danza, Dark Eye Tango, Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars. These are all quite solid numbers, and each feature unique qualities that add nicely to the album's overall diversity, from the tempo changes in Egyptian Danza, the beautiful guitar vibrato in Dark Eye Tango, and the lively guitar interplay in Fantasia Suite. However, for reasons that I can't quite articulate, they usually fail to hold my attention the way some of di Meola's previous work does.

Senor Mouse. If there is a microcosm of di Meola's maturation, it's this. Here he takes a Return to Forever classic, and actually slows it down (possibly in response to some of his anti-shredding critics). Needless to say, I prefer the frenzied interplay of the original, and this version just seems tame (boring even) by comparison. I'm pretty sure a younger di Meola would not have taken this cautious approach.

Casino. At nearly ten minutes, and as the album closer, I had high expectations for this one. In hindsight, probably too high. A promising opening and subsequent build around a familiar Latin bassline leads to some misplaced slow parts that just don't do it for me. Sure, there's a nice, energetic finish, but any momentum has long been extinguished by that point. Pleasant and somewhat catchy, nothing more.

Overall, a well-produced and performed album. For me, things are just a bit too polished and restrained (read: less actual fusion created). It would be one thing for this to be a blip on di Meola's radar, but unfortunately (for me at least), this trend toward restraint and "professionalism" would only increase.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |

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