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Al Di Meola - Winter Nights CD (album) cover


Al Di Meola

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Full-acoustic strings Al Di Meola Christmas album was a risky cases. The music there is a combination of few components, and the result is less than attractive.

First component is Russian pop-folk element ( or kitsch-folk elements). Al Di Meola has long collaboration history with some Russian pop-musicians, even released some recordings with them. I think the problem there is Di Meola just used Russian pop-folk instead folk roots for blending his world fusion. As successful he was blending Latino-jazz, neo-tango and Mediterranean music in world fusion of World Sinfony, as unsuccessful he is there, blending Russian pop-folk in strange kitsch/new age/lounge music. Possibly, he didn't succeed because of being unfamiliar enough with musical material.

Another component is Hernan Romero ( on acoustic guitar and production). I am quite familiar with Romero music, even listened him live ( in duet with Russian acoustic guitarist, one more Di Meola clone). He is quite competent Latino acoustic music guitarist, but hasn't own style, and often are too lounge-oriented in his sound. Here (for bad) he brings both his signatures - faceless acoustic guitar and polished down tempo lounge/new age production.

So, even being great guitarist himself, Al Di Meola recorded one of his below-the - average level album there. I think it could be interesting for listeners outside of progressive rock, world fusion or jazz only. Pleasant easy listening.

Report this review (#261418)
Posted Monday, January 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Winter Nights is the 16th full-length studio album by American artist Al Di Meola. The album was released in 1999 through Telarc.

And yes the title of the album fits the music like a glove. All 15 tracks on the album are instrumental mellow and acoustic tracks which definitely could be nice to listen to by the fireplace on a cold winter´s night ( or as background music to a romantic candlelight dinner). The tracks are a bit too similar in style though and if I have to be honest the album becomes background listening after only a few tracks. The quality of the tracks and the playing is high enough but the music is a bit too easy listening in style to really excite me beyond finding the album pleasant.

The production is warm and natural which suits the acoustic instrumentation well.

I usually enjoy Al Di Meola´s acoustic albums and while Winter Nights certainly isn´t a bad album there are few highlights on the album and I generally find it forgettable. If you´re interested in listening to the acoustic part of Al Di Meola´s discography I´d recommend picking up either Al Di Meola Plays Piazzolla (1990) or Heart of the Immigrants (1993) instead. Still the quality of the material and the excellent musicianship warrants a 2.5 - 3 star rating IMO.

Report this review (#298834)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.
Report this review (#843134)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2012 | Review Permalink

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