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Al Di Meola - Elegant Gypsy CD (album) cover

ELEGANT GYPSY

Al Di Meola

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.26 | 519 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars The musical videos were not yet an industry. The most common were fragments of live exhibitions. I saw Al di Meola for the first time on TV. He went into a studio, switched on a 16 tracks tape which started playing the base of Mediterranean sundance and he played the second guitar, then the screen was split in two with Al on the right side playing instead of the tape....amazing. So when I later was in a shop deciding if buying his debut that was already in the "Nice Price" offering and Elegant Gypsy I choose the second.

One thing that I've always found bad on Al di Meola's music, specially on the live with McLaughlin and DeLucia is that the excessive technicalities make the music sound "cold" even when Latin. It's not the case with this album. Al doesn't indulge too much in solos and fast legatos as he usually does during live performances. The guitar in almost all the songs makes an ensemble with the rest of the orchestration and Al plays fast only when it really makes sense.

It's evident since the first song: "Flight Over Rio" is based on bass and keyboards. It takes some time before a guitar is heard and when it's there it plays few "right" notes. We have to wait for the samba section that's a very good example of easy jazz to find some guitaristic virtuosities, but they are part of the song, nothing self-indulgent . The Fender piano reminds to Soft Machine, too.

Several years before "Plays Piazzolla", Midnight Tango is not properly what the title says. It's the most progressive song of the album, instead.

Now the song which made me buy the album. Respect to the live version Mediterranean Sundance has a long percussions intro that's totally useless as it fades out before the acoustic guitar starts its famous harping in A-. Since here it's exactly how I saw in that video. Two overdubbed guitars, one for each stereo channel for a flamenco-like jazz song.

"Race With Devil on Spanish Highway" is the most technical piece. The intro features a very fast guitar played in Spanish fashion, then it's fusion with some rock accents when the rhythm increases. The work of Jackson at bass is remarkable, but of course all the musicians must be skilled to play this kind of music for this kind of artist.

"Lady Of Rome, Sister of Brazil" would be a slow samba but the additio of a mandolin mnakes it sound very "Italian". Well, I'm Italian and it's at least 25 years that I don't see a mandolin, however this is how he wanted to sound for less than 2 minutes.

The closer is the title track and also the best track of the album. It has all the elements of the previous track: jazz, funky, samba...in one word, fusion. The rhythm is captivating and the melody easy enough without being trivial. The bass is excellent but here Al does his best.

Add to this a good production and a very clean sound. This is the album which has introduced me to fusion and I'm grateflu to Al too have open my mind and ears to this genre.

octopus-4 | 5/5 |

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