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Al DiMeola - Opus CD (album) cover

OPUS

Al DiMeola

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 20 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars For his latest to date album the Elegant Gypsy has finally put aside the passions of youth and settled into comfortable middle age, something we all have to do sooner or later, and hopefully with the same grace and economy of style. "This record", he writes in a note on the back cover, "...marks a new era in my life", one that completes a long, rewarding metamorphosis from the precocious 19-year old virtuoso who cut his musical teeth in Return to Forever to a mature artist with more than four decades of professional experience behind him.

Judging from its pretentious title and regal coat-of-arms artwork, Di Meola might have intended the album to be a summation of his life and career thus far. If true he succeeded handsomely, with some of the richest and most relaxed music yet heard from the erstwhile pyrotechnic axe master.

In other words, don't expect any mile-a-minute guitar heroics here. Some muted echoes of Di Meola's fiery past are still apparent, in "Escapade", "Rebels", and especially during the album highlight "Notorious", featuring a polite but exciting acoustic/electric guitar duel. But for the most part the music is invariably thoughtful, refined, largely (but not exclusively) acoustic, and entirely classical is approach, albeit played with often astonishing dexterity.

And it's a truly solo effort too. With the exception of an occasional keyboard and some quiet percussion, Di Meola handled all the instruments himself, and some of the orchestration: presumably digital, since no actual orchestra is credited. It's a pity he then insisted on performing his own drum accompaniment on several tracks, discreetly to be sure, but in an otherwise beautiful interlude like "Broken Heart" still a bit jarring in its amateur over-earnestness.

"For the first time in my life", he continues in his notes, "I have written music being happy": a debatable claim when considering the size of his recorded output since the mid-1970s. But I can't argue with the results, which obviously come from a part of the composer's heart not often opened to public scrutiny.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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