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Al Di Meola - Scenario CD (album) cover


Al Di Meola

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars So little reviews ? I always thought 'Scenario' was one of the best known albums from guitarist Al Di Meola. This instrumental album was released in 1983 and you can notice that quite easily. It seems the jazz rock/fusion was mixed with cold drum machines, dry sounding keyboards and clean sequencers. The result is a restrained sound but still the Di Meola's delicate guitar offerings are extremely enjoyable in a song like "Cachaca". The emotion is spattering off the crying guitar solo's and the combination with the technical dry rhythm section is surely interesting. On the opening track "Mata Hari" there's also eastern elements included in the guitar parts. This track has a wonderful feeling of mystery. But there's also some flaws. On a track like "Island dreamer" you're wondering if you are listening to music they played in the supermarket during the eighties. The melodies are cheesy and forgettable. There's a effort to give the percussion in "African nights" an African flavour but the result is silly. Still the track has some intriguing arrangements. There's some beautiful acoustic guitar & piano parts on the title track but you definitely have to be in a very quiet mood to enjoy this and it's not an easy listen. If you're not, I would consider to call it boring. "Sequencer" has too many commercial "Miami vice" elements to please me. Here the sound is streamlined a tad too much.

The quality of the composition is improving near the end of the album. "Calliope" is one of the highlights of the album. There's a challenging duel between the organ chords and Al's guitar. There's a speeding up of the tempo several times and the melodies are brilliant. There's lots of variation in the arrangements of the closing "Scoundrel days". Here the guitar parts are clearly influenced by the rock and wave trends of the decade. Once again the main theme is a simple, almost childish melody, only this time it works out fine.

After all "Scenario" isn't that memorable as a whole album but it does contend some great tracks and a nice atmosphere throughout even if it is sounding completely out of date nowadays.

Report this review (#82311)
Posted Friday, June 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This was an interesting phase for Mr. Di Meola. It was the 1980s after all, not an easy time for any musician who'd been around as long as he, and he found himself adapting to that brave new musical world the best way he could. The result was 'Scenario', and it turned out to be quite a tasty little album. The line up for the session was also an asset; Jan Hammer on keys, Fairlight CMI, piano, Linn and Roland drums, and Moog bass. As well, Bill Bruford and Tony Levin guest on a track, and Phil Collins appears. This didn't produce a prog supergroup for the 80s but it did make for one of the better synthetic projects of that often garish period.

The winds of the East and an Indian Bansuri, all electronic, open the desert pictures of 'Mata Hari', a track that showcases fluid rhythms from Hammer's Linn drums and Fairlight with Di Meola's cool plucking on top. The obligatory Adult Contemporary pap follows with 'African Night' and the record is further diminished by the dreadful 'Island Dreamer'. Luckily, these two maestros snap out of it and give us the superb title cut, a lovely and passioned duet of Al's Flamenco strings with Hammer's alternating piano and synth. A diamond in the rough and one of the things worth admission. 'Sequencer', in many ways the flagship of this project, is a bright electro-rocker where the blend of high-tech with hard rock is best illuminated and features one of this guitarist's best, most elegantly fierce staccato performances. 'Cachaca' slows the pace a bit but the guitar still cuts like a knife as it does in 'Hypnotic Conviction'. The eerie 'Calliope' develops into an odd-metered romp with melodic solos and the album finishes with the racing and clipping 'Scoundrel', an exercise in instrumental prowess. And please note the hats-off to Jeff Beck's 'Blue Wind' at the end, a well-deserved homage to that rock fusion giant.

Report this review (#111591)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Don't be fooled by the prestigious line-up announced on the inside sleeve, Bruford, Collins and Levin appear on only one track each, the rest being just the ADM and Jan Hammer duo sharing all the instrumentation. While not a bad album per se, Scenario is plagued by the usual stinking 80's flaws that include weak/[&*!#]ty synth sound (sorry Jan), bad synthetic beats and a general lack of good songwriting. Clearly ADM is now in the complete routine part of his career, recording one album after another, without actually really investing himself as much as a few years back. This album could easily match some of the weaker ECM releases of the era, but even then, this is not really bad, either.

The duo develops a highly synthesized music, ADM even using a Roland Guitar synth, and the music is often reminiscent of Jan Hammer's hit soundtrack of that idiotic Miami Vice TV series (you know, the one where cops drives Ferraris and Garden Dwarf Collins will make a "memorable appearance") and others softer jazz gizmos. The tracks where the three guests appears are not really much different than the rest of the album either. Although not a true stinker of an album, it is best avoided by everyone, especially Mr Bruford!

Report this review (#134461)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars That album is interesting in sense how Al Di Meola transformed his music during 80-s. Big positive side is his ELECTRIC guitar there. Negative - plenty of synthesizers all around, filling almost all the space.

The first track is really good, presenting jazz fusion based on synth and electric guitar complex sound. But things go wrong right after. If the second song is still average synth based melody with al most warm (!) guitar mixed in third, thisrd song is synthy-pop in classic form. Drum machine, new age stupid optimistic rings and whistles,etc.

All other album after "Island Dreamer" is a mixed bag again. In it bests it contains of synth based guitar scented jazz-fusion. But mostly it is more synthy-pop without melodies, but played by professional team. Listenable, but not too much interesting.

All in all - very average album, and really doesn't include nothing really good from long Al Di Meola career.

Report this review (#245473)
Posted Wednesday, October 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Bill Bruford, Phil Collins and a sequencer

Scenario was the album where Al Di Meola's approach changed radically and for ever after. He turned away from the kind music he had been doing on albums like Casino and Elegant Gypsy and took a large step towards the music he would do later. Some fans of those earlier albums might really dislike this one and I myself was left a bit confused with it. However, when judged for what it is, on its own merits and not in relation to earlier works, it is actually not that bad. Indeed, Mata Hari is a very good track with a Far Eastern feeling. Sadly, the album tends to drift more and more towards easy listening as we approach the middle of it. For me it becomes rather tedious after a while and it is very difficult to find motivation to listen to the whole album in one go.

As I have implied, the sound and feeling is very different from on earlier albums. There are sequencers here sounding very much like on Vangelis work of the time and Di Meola even seem to borrow some moods from Vangelis. The music is often laid back, not very colourful and a bit sterile. The role played by sequencers and drum machines is much larger than the presence of guest drummers Bill Bruford and Phil Collins. With such drum greats involved, it is disappointing to hear so little great drumming. But it is clear that Di Meola was not afraid of change and trying out new things. There are still electric guitars here and the all acoustic, World Music influenced, works Di Meola would do later are only hinted at here. But it was with this album he changed direction.

When in the right mood I can enjoy parts of this album very much, but overall I find it difficult to listen to the whole album. I can recommend this only for fans and collectors.

Report this review (#260214)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is the first album that I had ever heard from Al DiMeola. Steered to ADM by a friend, I thought that having Bruford, Collins and Levin on this album that would be spectacular. Unfortunately, the 3 guest only cover 2 tracks as Bruford and Levin are on 1 track and Collins is on another. There are plenty of drum machines and sequencers on this album and also plenty of Jan Hammer. While not put off as much as many on this site by the 80's sound, some of that sound here is generic. At the time, I was astonished about the guitar stylings of Mr. DiMeola. There is acoustic and of course electric guitar, plus a healthy dose of World Music mixed in and another has Far East influences. Some of these sounds he would explore deeper in the albums to come.

I enjoyed this album quite a bit when it came out but as I found out later, this was only the tip of the iceberg. I want to give this four stars but honestly, I think it falls a little short of the mark.

3 stars

Report this review (#260235)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permalink

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