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Al Di Meola - Elegant Gypsy CD (album) cover

ELEGANT GYPSY

Al Di Meola

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.27 | 517 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Al Di Meola's second album is ultimately my favorite album of his and is one of the best jazz rock albums available. All the elements of total success are here, stellar musicianship, creative songwriting, and fun and imaginative variances in the music. From heavy hitting power riffing to soft spoken acoustic guitar interludes, it is all here. From the very first second of Flight Over Rio to the pulsating closing seconds of Elegant Gypsy Suite, one thing is clear, this is an album that will be remembered for many many years to come. Like I said with my review for Casino, this album will surely be up the alley of any fan of guitar oriented music and any fan of high velocity Spanish influenced jazz rock.

Flight Over Rio opens the album with some intuitive bass riffing from Anthony Jackson and some very smooth keyboards from Jan Hammer. There's a definite mellow mood during this introduction, but once Di Meola enters everything slowly changes. The track becomes more fast paced and high energy, with some stellar ascending riffs from Di Meola and great and precise percussion from Mingo Lewis, as well as a great keyboard/guitar duel between Di Meola and Hammer. It opens the album brilliantly, and the quality of the songs never really goes down. Midnight Tango has a very mellow atmopshere in comparison to Flight Over Rio, with some intuitive soloing from Di Meola over a steady rhythm section and some great wavy piano lines. Slowly the pace increases, although not to the pace of the first track. The well timed chord based bass guitar work is also really well conceived. Mediterranean Sundance begins with a nice drum/percussion duet between Mingo Lewis and Lenny White, but soon becomes an exceedingly complicated piece with some great acoustic work from Di Meola and Paco de Lucia. The interplay between these two (and later along with John McLaughlin on Friday Night in San Francisco) is incredible and shows some stellar abilities for both musicians who take turns hammering out the main beat while another solos on top of it, eventually becoming a duel solo movement.

Race With Devil on Spanish Highway is probably my favorite song on this album. Beginning with a strong percussive rhythm and a cool bass line, the song soon evolves into an all out shred piece with riff after riff of powerful guitar lines that intertwine and spell out brilliance. There's a riff in this song that the group Liquid Tension Experiment would also quote in their song Acid Rain (or so I believe, they are very very similar). But besides that, there's nothing to dislike about this song, it's just high energy and very inspiring to listen to. Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil is a short interlude before the finale of the album, Elegant Gypsy Suite. It is a little acoustic ditty that has some very somber playing on the part of both Di Meola and Paco de Lucia, who create a very mellow and light atmosphere with this piece. The album ends with the song Elegant Gypsy Suite, which begins with some acoustic work from Paco de Lucia before becoming a nicely flowing piece, with a great bassline from Anthony Jackson and some great underlying percussion from Mingo Lewis. As with all the tracks on the album, Di Meola is nothing short of brilliant, who really creates some gentle yet rough riffs on this piece, as well as gentle and incredibly complicated leads that utilize a nice wah/phaser effect. Throughout the 9 minutes of the track, there is a great sense of evolution and progression, and I never really tire of this stellar piece.

In the end, Elegant Gypsy is right up there with Bill Bruford's One of a Kind as one of my favorite records in the jazz rock genre. There's a lot of excellent musicianship, killer songs, great arrangements, and an overall spectacular feel I get from this album. As I said in my opening paragraph, fans of guitar oriented music and highly technical jazz rock will probably be right at home with this album. I can't call this album anything less than a masterpiece and I am very impressed with this album. You probably won't be either. 5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 5/5 |

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