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Al Di Meola - Elegant Gypsy CD (album) cover

ELEGANT GYPSY

Al Di Meola

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.27 | 496 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars I was drawn to this merely due to the high rating it has received and the plethora of reviews that rave eloquently at what a masterpiece this is. I have never heard of the man myself but it was a pleasant journey whole it lasted. As soon as 'Flight Over Rio' begins I know immediately this is very nice music that appeals to me as a form of relaxing after hearing too much ELP, Gentle Giant and Eloy. It is such an organic album that moves smoothly from one musical arrangement to the other. Parts remind me of Santana meets Hackett and it is certainly a unique sound that is created.

The guitar work is beautiful, particularly on 'Midnight Tango' with lovely Spanish flavours, and some wonderful piano augmentations. The symphonic strings are a serene nuance that resonates with my senses, and it gets quite wild at the end with African congas and bongos in a short burst of inspiration. 'Mediterranean Sundance' is permeated by Spanish Flamenco guitar vibrations, playing off some amazing speed picking. Meola and Paco De Lucia are obviously accomplished guitar virtuosos and this tune proves their ability. It makes a nice break on the album after the dense musicianship previously. The crystal clear guitar tones echo in the eardrums and provides a relaxing experience, but one will be astonished at the extraordinary dexterity of the guitarists especially towards the end when the pace quickens.

'Race With Devil On Spanish Highway' has an enigmatic title and is flavoured with a pulsing bassline, hi hat work, and a muscular guitar riff as bongos are played at a frenetic pace. This is my favourite track on the album feeling like the type of music heard in the 70s where twanging guitar is layered with hyper paced percussion. The guitar picking gets frenetic later and there is a soaring lead break that spins wildly out of control, and leaves me breathless. This is a master class performance and one that should be heard by all progheads.

'Lady Of Rome, Sister Of Brazil' is a short piece after the last frenetic explosion of power. Here we can relax again with twin acoustics playing very melodic romantic music. The album closes on another epic 'Elegant Gypsy Suite' clocking 9 minutes. It opens with some quirky time sigs and a jazz fusion feel. The guitars hold onto the melody and at times get funky, and there is a really nice finger picking thing with some speedy work and a wandering bassline that consistently maintains the rhythm. The guitar work is astounding and is relentless in creative styles, from speed picking to soaring string bends, the man is a master.

"Elegant Gypsy" is an incredible album of showmanship guitar work and needs recommendation. I didn't expect it to blow me away as it did but it is so good it is impossible to ignore. Good things come in small packages and although this is short it is certainly an excellent example of instrumental jazz fusion.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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