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Al Di Meola - Winter Nights CD (album) cover


Al Di Meola


Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.47 | 23 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

2 stars Big Al's foray into the vast and oftentimes dreadful world of holiday music shows him in an appropriately yet uncharacteristically light mood. For many Di Meola fans, this does not bode well. What I like about it though, is his unique latinesque stamp, even if it does tend towards the mellow rather than the passionate. He gives us a mix of Christmas classics, both contemporary and traditional, and some original tunes, four of them titled as Winterludes. I am not sure if that is clever or pedestrian. The all-too familiar tunes include Carol of the Bells, Greensleeves, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, The First Noel, and Ave Maria. He gives fair treatment to these and makes some of them his own. There are a couple of songs that I have never associated with the season or the holidays: Scarborough Fair, where glittering tones and a delicate treatment of the melody create the impression of starlit snow and frost, making this the highlight of the album, and an excellent instrumental version of Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street. The remaining four tracks are original and naturally sound more like what we are used to hearing from this great guitarist, that is, for his quieter side. Al is found playing percussion, keys, and harp as well as acoustic guitar. Helping out is Hernan Romero on percussion and guitar and Roman Hrynkiv on the Ukrainian bandura, one of the most spectacular and beautiful instruments ever created. It is the inclusion of this that gives the album its most unique qualities. If you have never seen one, it is like a combination of a lute and a harp. Or maybe an autoharp with a guitar attached to it. Hrynkiv also composed three of the four Winterludes (which I think are really improvisations). Overall, the album is pleasant, yet ultimately one dimensional. The final effect is atmospheric. When it is over, the listener will remember the mood and tone more than the music or any of the songs. Big Al's playing at times shows his trademark intricacy but most of what is going on here is atmosphere and melody. The music is more Cielo y Terra than Elegant Gypsy. It is difficult to find a completely original holiday album, and this one fits somewhere in the middle. For an Al Di Meola album, it fits somewhere more towards the bottom.
Progosopher | 2/5 |


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