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CASINO

Al Di Meola

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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4 stars Al DiMeola's various band set ups and albums are always interesting, some are truly brilliant, this album in particular has some inspiring ideas. The first track has a section where the band speeds up the tempo as one. i don't think i've heard one as flawless as this album, perfectly in time with each other playing complex time signatures and unusual patterned riffs. Alot of the music may seem cheesy at time but I have found alot of enjoyment from it.

Some of the riffs remind me of Ray Shulman's riffs from Gentle Giant, very interesting indeed. Although I would consider this music more virtuoistic than Gentle Giant the ensemble has a very similar satisfying sound which I come by very occaisionally.

The music of A;l DiMeola is worth a listen off any lover of music who like intreaguing intrumental ideas, there's always alot to go at and the albums don't temd to be fully understood until you have listened to them a few times.

I thought I'd review this as it hasn't been before, but I'd recommend starting wit Land Of The Midnight Sun or Electric Rendezvous

Very inspirational music for instrumentalists

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Send comments to y'dellek (BETA) | Report this review (#60247)
Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Al Di Meola's third solo album after the masterpiece of Elegant Gypsy was a trying effort, and it was a large success in my eyes. But still, it didn't match Elegant Gypsy in quality, but it came close. Hiis highly technical and ridiculously speedy guitar antics are complimented wonderfully by his backing band (as is usually the case) who play at the same vigorous and relentless pace as Di Meola himself. What you should expect for all Di Meola albums is a heavily Spanish influenced foray into the realms of jazz rock. While it's not really a masterpiece, this is an excellent album that all aspiring guitarists and musicians alike should listen to solely because of the exceedingly impressive chops that all of the musicians have.

The album opens with the overly arabic influenced Egyptian Danza, which begins with a very ambient and dissonant organ. From the get go, the fast paced and unison bass/guitar riffing is complimented by some stellar drumming and some great underlying keyboard work. It's the song that inspired me to get the album because I had heard it before and I loved every second of it. Chasin' the Voodoo begins with rapid percussion and a groovy bass line before becoming a solid foundation for Di Meola's nice mixture of chords and machine gun soloing. Dark Eye Tango is a nice contrast to the first two tracks, with a much more laid back and mellow environment. It's not as brilliant as the first two pieces, but it's a solid piece that doesn't really detract or lower the overall quality of the album. Señor Mouse is a Return to Forever song (or Chick Corea, not sure) that gets a nice rendition on this album. It has a nice steady beat and some very creative percussion giving it a very smooth latin flavor. Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars is a wonderful acoustic piece with a nice majestic feel and a great pace, as well as some fantastic guitar work. It really shows Di Meola's versatility on both electric and acoustic guitars. Casino ends the album on a high note with sensational riffing from Di Meola and a stellar bass performance from Anthony Jackson. The track has a nice flow and it really evolves and regresses well all within a nice 9 minute time frame.

In the end, Casino is a great starter for those looking into Al Di Meola. Although it wouldn't be his best album, there is a lot to like here and any aspiring musician or fans of guitar oriented music will surely feel right at home with this album because again Di Meola is a stupendous guitarist who's chops never cease to amaze me. 4/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#85202)
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars ADM's third solo album, Casino, is the last I'll consider as excellent, although it is clear his future albums will not lack good moments. Indeed, Casino even won some kind of music awards in some mag, In this album, he's backed by his former bandleader Barry Miles (ADM had played with them before getting a call from Chick Corea to join up RTF), percussion greats Mingo Lewis and Steve Gadd. One of the new twist is that the foursome form a real band with Mingo Lewis even allowed a song.

From the opening notes of Egyptian Danza, you just know that ADM's fusion songwriting just climbed up another step, as the intense tight Latino/Spanish jazz-rock, that sounds a bit less Santana-esque than on the previous two albums. The excellent Mingo- penned Chasin' The Voodoo has obviously also some Santana feel, but this is even more understandable when thinking of Lewis's previous journey. The band is obviously very much used to playing together and aside one track, the album glides effortlessly cruising from clichéd Dark Eye Tango to the blistering Corea-penned Senor Mouse (probably the stronger track with Egyptian Danza) and the rather overlong title track finale.

One of the more irritating side of ADM is his aesthetically unhealthy love affair with Flamenco, a style in which he obviously pales in comparison with the masters of the genre (including the famous trio with DeLucia and McLaughlin), and his Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars absolutely fails to convince me, much the same way the UK-US group Carmen tried a few years earlier.

Aside this relative faux-pas, Casino is an excellent album that is very worthy of its two predecessor, even if by now, the Flamenco/Santana influences are a little worn to the thread. But Casino is certainly at least worth Midnight Sun and Gypsy, so I'd have a hard time choosing one or even two of the three!

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#134460)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Di Meola continues his evolution, and the results are for the most part positive. It seems that there is considerable consensus so far on this album (myself included): Casino is a solid album, but it just isn't quite as catchy, energetic, or charming as his masterpiece, Elegant Gypsy. That should by no means keep you away from this album if you like Mediterranean-style and flamenco music. However, di Meola is clearly moving away from rocking fusion, and for some that is an improvement--for me, Casino represents a movement toward generally less progressive (and less interesting) music.

Chasin' the Voodoo. This is really the only rocker on the album, and of course that means it's the highlight for me. Beginning with some Santana-esques congas leading to a thunderous riff and staccato picking, this tune is a great mix of up-tempo fusion between Miles' keys, the drum/conga percussion duo, and di Meola's energetic guitar.

Egyptian Danza, Dark Eye Tango, Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars. These are all quite solid numbers, and each feature unique qualities that add nicely to the album's overall diversity, from the tempo changes in Egyptian Danza, the beautiful guitar vibrato in Dark Eye Tango, and the lively guitar interplay in Fantasia Suite. However, for reasons that I can't quite articulate, they usually fail to hold my attention the way some of di Meola's previous work does.

Senor Mouse. If there is a microcosm of di Meola's maturation, it's this. Here he takes a Return to Forever classic, and actually slows it down (possibly in response to some of his anti-shredding critics). Needless to say, I prefer the frenzied interplay of the original, and this version just seems tame (boring even) by comparison. I'm pretty sure a younger di Meola would not have taken this cautious approach.

Casino. At nearly ten minutes, and as the album closer, I had high expectations for this one. In hindsight, probably too high. A promising opening and subsequent build around a familiar Latin bassline leads to some misplaced slow parts that just don't do it for me. Sure, there's a nice, energetic finish, but any momentum has long been extinguished by that point. Pleasant and somewhat catchy, nothing more.

Overall, a well-produced and performed album. For me, things are just a bit too polished and restrained (read: less actual fusion created). It would be one thing for this to be a blip on di Meola's radar, but unfortunately (for me at least), this trend toward restraint and "professionalism" would only increase.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#155231)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Casino is a shining star in Di Meola lucky career. I think this is easily at the same level of the much acclaimed predecessor Elegant Gipsy and I cannot hide my love for it. To be honest I use to listen to it more often than that. Maybe is the more liquid atmosphere as introduced by the organ intro to Egyptian Danza. Above all, the slightly less nervous guitar's playing. Probably a winning card, this time, thanks also to a masterful band that really touches the apex!

The same mediterranean, caribbean and hot latin background helps to stay relaxed and enjoy this beautiful intrumental work without be bored for one single moment. Really great.

Songs such as Chasing the Vodoo and Señor Mouse have the power to involve any good prog lover.

There is nothing to add, I think. If you like Elegant Gipsy then you must put your hands on this one.

4.5

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#164530)
Posted Friday, March 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
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Symphonic Team
4 stars Fantasia album

Many would probably say that Casino is inferior to the great Elegant Gypsy album. However, after many listens over a period of several years I begun realizing that Casino is actually very bit as good, if not better than Elegant Gypsy. There are some truly great moments on Casino and the playing is, of course, excellent to say the least. Mind-boggling is more to the point. I can definitely understand those who think that this type of music is over-technical and more concerned with speed and accuracy than with feeling and melody, but this does not apply to the present work. There is indeed speed and accuracy in Al Di Meola's playing, but he also has both great musical feeling and a very good understanding of melody and composition. Indeed, the compositions are almost as complex as the playing and I think that this is a reason for why it takes some effort to get into. It requires an active listener (like most progressive music). I would even go as far as saying that Casino is my favourite album in the Jazz-Rock/Fusion category, certainly one of them anyway.

Meola's albums are often thought about as a guitar albums, but we should not forget the keyboards, basses, drums and Latin percussions which are essential to his style and equally well played and impressive as the guitar playing itself. The whole album is sonically perfect with excellent production. The Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars is an amazing Flamenco-style acoustic guitar four part composition in line with Mediterranean Sundance from Elegant Gypsy but more loaded with themes. I get chills down my spine evertime I hear this!

Like Elegant Gypsy, Casino too is an excellent album and a very good place to start investigating Di Meola and the genre of Jazz-Rock/Fusion.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#200466)
Posted Saturday, January 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars If you enjoy pure exciting electric fusion, then Casino is one of the best of Al DiMeola's solo albums. While the compositions and performances are not quite up to the level of a Return To Forever album, they are pretty close.

The best song, and closest to RTF style is the opening track, Egyptian Danza. This song is intricate, exotic and highly complex. This song would feel right at home on any of the classic RTF albums. If only Anthony Jackson, Steve Gadd and Barry Miles had the technique of Clarke, White and Corea. But this is a superb song nonetheless.

The remainder of the album, save for one flamenco style song, is highly competant latin tinged electric fusion. It is all played well, and highly entertaining, but for some reason I always feel like there's something missing from the title track, "Casino". It just seems to have less energy than it shoud.

However, this is a fine album, and I highly recommend it.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#228591)
Posted Monday, July 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars And his masterpieces continue...

Al Di Meola, releases his 3rd full-length album, ''Casino''. After a real awesome debut and his all-time classic masterpiece, ''Elegant Gypsy'', Al continues to compose excellent music.

Al's Di Meola guitar abilities are well-known. He has a perfect playability, an out-spaced technique and a beautiful sense of composing Jazz-Rock-Fusion music. His passages from one genre to another are so wisely put together that everyone remains surprised. His band crew is also perfect, being consisted of world class fame musicians. Everyone here is a virtuoso. Steve Gadd plays the drum, Anthony Jackson the bass, Barry Miles the keys, as Eddie Colon and Mingo Lewis complete this fantastic crew with their percussions staff. The compositions of ''Casino'' are on good hands. Perfect performing and marvelous compositions..

The album's production is always perfect, rendering Al as a great producer, too. ''Casino'' is not very different from the precedent albums. always presenting Al's search for another music genres too, like Latin. ''Casino'' remains one of the most incredible projects of Al's Di Meola discography, a diamond for Jazz and Fusion. To me another real masterpiece...

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Send comments to FatalV (BETA) | Report this review (#243590)
Posted Thursday, October 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The third Al Di Meola's solo project Casino is one of those jazz-rock fusion classics I have always enjoyed listening to. There are albums that provoke positive vibrations and sentiments even though you are aware they are not completely generated by their quality. Casino is one of those albums, it has very good music, it provides pleasant atmosphere fulfilling you with joy you have an affinity for Miles, Chick, McLaughlin, Ponty, Gurtu and other fusion masters. But at the same time its biggest deficiency is the fact that it precisely follows the structure and profile of Elegant Gypsy, leaving no space for surprise and new experience. Nevertheless, the album possesses several tracks which would become Meola's live classics, like Egyptian Danza - a brilliant, highly complex song with seducing Middle Eastern elements, or Senor Mouse - the RTF's reprise, but now in a slower manner, giving the older version new identity, looking successful and acceptable only after several listenings. Al Di Meola was only 24 when he made Casino - an album that put a definite seal of artistic strength and validity on his future career.

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Send comments to Bilkaim (BETA) | Report this review (#246102)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
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Prog Metal Team
3 stars Casino sets off as strongly as the preceding Elegant Gypsy. Egyptian Danza and Chasin' the Voodoo are chasing and furious indeed. Impressive fusion tracks. Dark Eye Tango and Senor Mouse will probably please lovers of Latin music: diverse and inspired, but with many sugary moments. Too happy and light for me I guess. Fantasia Suite is even happier but in a pleasing and captivating way. I don't think I would enjoy a whole album of this but just this one acoustic flamenco bit works perfectly well amidst the heavy electric fusion around it. The title track could have lifted this album from good to excellent but it disappoints. Much of the holy fire that ran through Elegant Gypsy has run out too fast.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#248250)
Posted Thursday, November 05, 2009 | Review Permalink

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