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Al Di Meola - Orange And Blue  CD (album) cover

ORANGE AND BLUE

Al Di Meola

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.19 | 25 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars What a difference a few years makes! Al Di Meolo is back with a vengeance on this 1994 studio release featuring his best world-music fusion since 1990’s ‘World Sinfonia’. Guest musicians include the multi- talented Greek George Dalaras, Peter Erskine, bassist Pino Palladino, and Israelis Achinoam Nin (Noa) with her luscious vocals and string player Simon Shaheen among others. And a first (for me at least) with Hernan Romero sporting a double-neck charango. If I count right that’s 20 (count ‘em) acoustic strings being picked by one man. Cool stuff!

The tracks here were all composed by Di Meolo himself with the exception of “Theme of the Mother Ship” which was primarily written by Chick Corea with help from Di Meolo on the finishing touches. This is a much more vibrant recording than most of rest of his eighties and early nineties work, and the ethnic touches are more prominent than anything he’d done in a decade with the exception of the ‘World Sinfonia’ album.

There’s not much actual lyrical singing here, but Shaheen and Noa provide plenty of tasteful chanting and wordless accompaniment on most of the tracks. Di Meola focuses his efforts on acoustic guitars (with plenty of overdubbed tracks on most of the songs) as well as some Latin percussion. Mario Parmisano employs a Steinway upright to great effect throughout, and especially on “Chilean Pipe Song”, “Summer Country Song” and the two-part “If We Meet Again”. The most Latin-flavored track is probably the soft acoustic guitar-focused “Precious Little You” with its light and ambient percussive treatments and soft bass. Unlike the earlier ‘Kiss my Axe’ or ‘Scenario’ though, Di Meolo manages to evoke real emotion in this and the rest of the compositions on the album.

The lineup is superb, the variety closer to what we’ve come to expect from the master of world jazz/ fusion, and the engagement of Di Meolo himself in the mood and vibrancy of each track is consistent and apparent.

This isn’t a masterpiece by any means, and Di Meolo hasn’t really had one of those in many years. But it is an extremely well-constructed and engaging body of work that merits a listen by fans of the genre as well as those who are looking for a taste of what Al Di Meolo has to offer. If you’ve never heard the man start with ‘Elegant Gypsy’, but after that this wouldn’t be a bad follow-up to add to your collection. Maybe a bit high at four stars, but not unduly so.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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