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AL DI MEOLA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Al Di Meola biography
Intense, that's the best word to describe the character of the music that took hold at the outset of the 70's. Powered by stacks of amplifiers, propelled by rock backbeats, fueled with unbridled passion, and full of the spirit of jazz improvisation, this so-called fusion music coalesced into a full blown movement with the arrival of John McLAUCHLIN's MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, Larry CORYELL's ELEVENTH HOUSE, and Chick COREA's RETURN TO FOREVER. We can feel the intensity in DI MEOLA's playing in his debut with RETURN TO FOREVER, 1974's "Where Have I Known You Before", or their 1975 follow-up, the Grammy-winning "No Mystery". That power-house formula of dizzying speed, demanding unison lines, and rock intensity continues on the group's 1976 Columbia debut, "Romantic Warrior" and carries over to Di Meola's debut as a leader, "Land Of The Midnight Sun", released the same year on Columbia. His signature sound, the ringing sustain of a Les Paul played through a Marshall stack is an integral part of al those projects. Guitar Player magazine named Di Meola "best new talent" for 1975 on the strength of his playing on "No Mystery". It awarded him "Best Jazz guitarist" for 1977 and also named his "Elegant Gypsy" "Best Guitar LP" for that year. Al went on to dominate the Best Jazz Guitarist category, winning five consecutive years through 1981, while also earning "Best Guitar LP" awards in 1978 for "Casino" and in 1980 for "Splendido Hotel". With those impressive credits, Al was instantly inducted into Guitar Player's Gallery of the Greats, becoming the youngest player in the magazine's history ever accorded that honor.

At the outset of the 80's, DI MEOLA put his Les Paul on the shelf and turned to the acoustic guitar, touring and recorded with a superstar trio including McLaughlin and Spain's flamenco master, Paco DE LUCIA. He returned to his old electrified ways briefly with 1982's "Electric Rendez-vous" and its follow-up, "Tour De Force Live". In 1983, the same year he recorded the bravado studio album "Passion, Grace & Fire" with the acoustic trio, De Meola had a brief reunion tour with his old RTF mates, COREA, drummer Lenny WHITE, and bassist Stanley CLARKE. Though the tour proved that the intensity was still very much alive, no record was released of this powerhouse fusion unit, together again for the first time since the 1976 breakup.

Discography:
Land of the Midnight Sun - 1976
Elegant Gypsy - 1977
Casino - 1978
Splendido Hotel-1980
...
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ElysiumElysium
inakustik Label Group 2015
Audio CD$12.28
$12.27 (used)
All Your Life (A Tribute to the Beatles)All Your Life (A Tribute to the Beatles)
inakustik Label Group 2013
Audio CD$7.77
$10.11 (used)
Elegant GypsyElegant Gypsy
Import
Music on Vinyl 2013
Vinyl$19.00
$3.22 (used)
Pursuit Of Radical RhapsodyPursuit Of Radical Rhapsody
Telarc 2011
Audio CD$5.22
$3.58 (used)
Original Album ClassicsOriginal Album Classics
Box set · Import
Sony UK 2010
Audio CD$12.81
$13.27 (used)
Flesh On FleshFlesh On Flesh
Telarc 2006
Audio CD$6.09
$3.99 (used)
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AL DI MEOLA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

AL DI MEOLA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 119 ratings
Land Of The Midnight Sun
1976
4.25 | 587 ratings
Elegant Gypsy
1977
3.82 | 111 ratings
Casino
1978
2.92 | 64 ratings
Splendido Hotel
1980
3.54 | 72 ratings
Electric Rendezvous
1982
2.72 | 36 ratings
Scenario
1983
3.07 | 23 ratings
Cielo e Terra
1985
3.24 | 27 ratings
Soaring Through A Dream
1985
3.14 | 25 ratings
Tirami Su
1987
2.48 | 35 ratings
Kiss My Axe
1988
3.91 | 31 ratings
World Sinfonia
1990
3.29 | 20 ratings
Heart Of The Immigrants
1993
3.18 | 28 ratings
Orange And Blue
1994
3.30 | 22 ratings
Al Di Meola Plays Piazzolla
1996
3.12 | 28 ratings
The Infinite Desire
1998
2.50 | 21 ratings
Winter Nights
1999
4.06 | 46 ratings
The Grande Passion - World Sinfonia
2000
4.11 | 55 ratings
Flesh On Flesh
2002
2.03 | 10 ratings
Cosmopolitan Life (with Leonid Agutin)
2005
1.26 | 8 ratings
Vocal Rendezvous
2006
3.80 | 43 ratings
Consequence Of Chaos
2006
3.93 | 11 ratings
Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar, Volume I, Music of Astor Piazzolla
2006
3.41 | 30 ratings
Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody
2011
2.88 | 8 ratings
All Your Life
2013
3.50 | 4 ratings
Elysium
2015

AL DI MEOLA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 16 ratings
Tour De Force: Live
1982
3.90 | 2 ratings
Andrea Parodi & Al Di Meola: Midsummer Night In Sardinia- Armentos
2005
3.33 | 3 ratings
Live In London ( Al Di Meola World Sinfonia)
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
He And Carmen (with Eszter Horgas)
2008
3.91 | 4 ratings
La Melodia Live In Milano (Al Di Meola World Sinfonia)
2008
3.50 | 2 ratings
World Sinfonia - Live from Seattle and Elsewhere
2009

AL DI MEOLA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

5.00 | 1 ratings
One of These Nights
2004
4.09 | 3 ratings
Speak A Volcano - Return To Electric Guitar (DVD)
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morocco Fantasia
2012

AL DI MEOLA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Greatest Hits
1990
3.53 | 7 ratings
The Best of Al Di Meola: Manhattan Years
1992
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Essence of Al Di Meola
1994
4.00 | 5 ratings
This Is Jazz, Vol. 31
1997
4.00 | 8 ratings
Anthology (1975-1982)
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Revisited
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Colecao Folha Classicos do Jazz Vol. 18
2008

AL DI MEOLA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

AL DI MEOLA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Land Of The Midnight Sun by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.93 | 119 ratings

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Land Of The Midnight Sun
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars After his stint with Chic Corea in Return To Forever reached its natural evolutionary conclusion, AL DI MEOLA decided the band had reached its apex and took off for a promising solo career at the age of 22. On his debut album LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN that came out the same year as "Romantic Warrior" he really got to show his stuff. Whereas in the Return To Forever role he was limited to the whims of band leader Chic Corea, on this debut he shines in full solo spender and displays his knack for not only playing guitar at the speed of light making him one of the few 70s shredders, but also illuminated his talents in creating long drawn out multi-part compositions as heard on the astounding three part epic "Suite Golden Dawn."

While this is a AL DI MEOLA album through and through, he did have a little help with his friends from Return To Forever as well as other musical maestros with each contributing on different tracks, only this time HE was the band leader and got to lead the way. The album starts off with the Santana-esque "The Wizard" which is a percussive laden drum frenzy which introduces the world to DI MEOLA's unique world of jazz-fusion with his gypsy ethnic flair that shows his blossoming interest in Latin rhythms, Mediterranean cultures and flamenco. While the second title track is a nine minute plus jazz-fusion behemoth that is pretty damned good and displays some veritable guitar maestrohood, it is without a doubt side two of the original vinyl release which constitutes the just shy of ten minute "Suite Golden Dawn" and the closing "Short Tales Of The Black Forest" that are the true masterpieces of this debut release.

On these last two tracks we get some of the most versatile and beautifully constructed guitar music that emerged from the 70s. "Suite Golden Dawn" starts off with that frenetic "Heart Of The Sunrise" feel from Yes and makes me think of what Yes would have sounded like had they gone in the full-on jazz-fusion direction. The track then meanders into soft and loud passages that alternate in perfect harmony until its end. There are also parts that bring the excellent "Fire Garden Suite" by Steve Vai to mind which shows how influential DI MEOLA's technical prowess and compositional skills would be so influential for guitar virtuosos that followed. The finale "Short Tales Of The Black Forest" sounds like a mini Return To Forever reunion with Chic Corea providing both piano and marimba and easily sounds like it could have been slipped on to the "Romantic Warrior" album and no one would notice. While the rest of the album doesn't quite live up to the brilliance of the second half of the album, the first is quite the entertaining affair save the rather ho hum attempt at a J.S. Bach sonata in the form of "Sarabande" but at 1:20 hardly the focus of the album. Overall, great debut that would springboard DI MEOLA into greater heights.

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 Land Of The Midnight Sun by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.93 | 119 ratings

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Land Of The Midnight Sun
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars After his two-year stint with Chick Corea's Return To Forever came to an end in early 1976, Al Di Meola, at the grand old age of twenty-one, decided to go it alone, issuing his thrilling solo debut 'Land Of The Midnight Sun' through Colombia Records later the same year. A technical marvel from beginning-to-end(and all the way in-between) Di Meola's first album found the New York-born guitarist delivering a fluid, electric jazz-fusion set, very much in the style of his work with Chick Corea, though with the latin, salsa and flamenco-influences that would dominate much of his later material largely absent. Featuring contributions from all three of his ex-Return To Forever bandmates - Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White - there is perhaps an argument for considering 'Land Of The Midnight Sun' as just another Return To Forever record, yet seasoned-Di Meola followers will quickly notice the guitarists fingerprints spread across almost every facet of the album, from the quicksilver guitar shredding, to the slick production values and the album's sheer level of technical excellence. Also featuring guest spots from Weather Report duo Alphonse Mouzon(drums) and Jaco Pistorious(bass, percussion), in- demand session player Anthony Jackson(bass) and Barry Miles(piano), the sheer volume of unbridled musical talent on display is nothing short of daunting, especially considering that Di Meola himself had only just turned twenty-two(!), but don't let that put you off. Playing and sounding like a musician who's been studying the guitar for decades, Di Meola's talent is indeed special, and despite playing with one of the great fusion groups of the 1970's, it was only on 'Land Of The Midnight Sun' that the guitarist finally managed to take centre stage, something that really had to happen if he was ever going to realise the full potential of his abilities. Wreathed in that glorious, almost cosmic ambience that only the jazz-fusion genre can summon, this debut ranks right up there with the other classic fusion albums of the 1970's, albums like Herbie Hancock's 'Crossings', 'We'll Talk About It Later' from British outfit Nucleus and Di Meola's own debut with Return To Forever, 1974's career-defining 'Where Have I Known You Before'. Picking highlights on an album as dense, complex and energetic as this is almost pointless, and there are at least three tracks that deserve to have the word 'great' attached to their description, yet the truth is that this is a superb album in virtually every sense. Opener 'The Wizard' deserves special mention for its blistering melodies and gutsy riffs, whilst the nine-minute title-track and the glorious 'Suite Golden Dawn' both take the listener on a rapid-fire journey through Di Meola's complex musical domain, his constant guitar attacks embellishing a variety of instrumental moods and textures conjoured up by the almost-as-brilliant line-up of fusion greats backing him up. Even the brief and subtle cover of Bach's 'Sarabande From Violin Sonata in B Minor' intrigues, giving the listener a brief acoustic time-out, whilst the beautiful and all-to-brief 'Love Theme From Pictures Of The Sea' leaves the listener desperately wanting more....

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 Land Of The Midnight Sun by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.93 | 119 ratings

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Land Of The Midnight Sun
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Prog 74

4 stars 1976 was a breakout year for jazz guitarist extraordinaire Al Di Meola. He had already taken the jazz-rock fusion world by storm with his fleet-fingered contributions to the excellent 'Romantic Warrior' album from Return to Forever earlier in the year, but in the fall he would unleash his debut solo album masterpiece. This album also features some of the best musicians around at the time such as Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Chick Corea & Lenny White. "The Wizard" opens the album with a nice bass riff. Al Di Meola then makes his fiery presence known immediately after and really begins to drive this song. We are going into rock territory here. The music does have a bit of a magical atmosphere about it, which is fitting considering the title of the song. Quite proggy. The 9:00 minute title track comes next and it's rather seductive opening has a real Latin feel to it. Again excellent bass playing sets the mood right out of the gate. Di Meola plays breezy & lyrical throughout. The overall mood of the song seems somewhat at odds with the more mysterious sounding title. Di Meola really catches fire around the 7:00 minute mark and just burns his way all the way to the end. A curveball comes next in the form of Bach's "Sarabande from Violin Sonata in B Minor". However it's performed beautifully with Di Meola on acoustic guitar. "Love Theme from Pictures of the Sea" comes next and it's quite lovely. It has a nice, meditative vibe and features some trance-like vocals from Stanley Clarke and Patty Buyukas. "Suite-Golden Dawn" is next and this three part epic is the album's real highlight. Blazing electric guitar from Di Meola sets the mood with the first part of the suite. Beautiful keyboard playing from Barry Miles really gives the music a nice, proggy feel in the second part of the suite. The third part of the suite is the longest and features some real menacing guitar riffs from Di Meola and a real funky bass groove laid down by Pastorius. The somewhat frantic "Short Tales of the Black Forest" closes out the album in fantastic style. This song is a duet between Di Meola on acoustic guitar and Chick Corea on piano and it really smokes. This is an amazing album and can easily be recommended to jazz-fusion fans and progheads alike.

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 Elegant Gypsy by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.25 | 587 ratings

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Elegant Gypsy
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by CCVP
Prog Reviewer

5 stars One of the best jazz fusion albums ever

Al di Meola has been regarded, both in jazz rock and elsewhere, as one of the best guitarists of all time. Even though I could see that he was a very talented guitar player listening to the (few) Return to Forever albums I own, having a perfect technique and flawless musicianship, Return to Forever's music would, in one way or another, eventually turn me down. I just can't quite put my finger on it, maybe because of the huge amount of things that aren't right, but sometimes I just get awestruck as to how such a competent and talented group of musicians could compose some tunes that are, in my opinion, straight up boring.

Long story short, if Al could not pull it wile together with three other equally talented musicians, I doubted Mr. di Meola could put out better music by himself. Well, at least that was how I though up until putting my hands on Elegant Gypsy.

Indeed, Elegant Gypsy, in my opinion at least, rights many things that were wrong in Return to Forever, such as focus and proper melodic progress, which Al does perfectly here: he creates / comes up with a certain line of melody and develops it to the point it becomes perfect. Another thing which he does way right here and that doens't go quite as smoothly in Return to Forever is that everything gets its due space; there isn't a million things happening at the same time and when that happen they are the center of everything and every other instrument work around that thing (mostly guitar or keyboard lines).

As one might expect from a solo album of a guitarist, Elegant Gypsy is mostly about the guitars, but not exclusively. Yes, the guitars do play a huge part here, but so do the keyboards, that, at times, work together with the guitars in a call and response style. However, most the album revolves around the stringed instrument. Al here presents us with a barrage of unbelievable guitar lines and strikingly impressive ideas and motifs.

In spite of the whole album being filled with them, there are three in particular that amaze me every single time I listen to them: the guitar lines in Flight Over Rio, which make us feel like we are indeed inside an airplane (and the solo is just mind blowing); the speeding melodies of Race With Devil On Spanish Highway, which perfectly translate the feeling of being behind a racing car, the speed, the competition, the meandering curves. . . It feels exactly like you are in a speeding automobile; and the impressive layers of guitar music in the Elegant Gypsy Suite, which, by the way, is the song that sounds the closest to traditional progressive rock.

The other songs are quite good as well, but they don't have such memorable moments as those three in particular. Midnight Tango is, as the name implies, a tango inspired song where Al uses his proficient guitar abilities to merge the Latin rhythm with jazz rock, resulting in a very interesting combination of both. Mediterranean Sundance, on its turn, tries and mixes Spanish guitar to already spicy mix of jazz and Latin American combination employed in Elegant Gypsy.

There are some down points, however, even though these points actually account for what isn't in the album. First, despite the references to Brazil in some song titles, there is no musical reference to the country; Al limits himself to Latin American music, which in no circumstance includes the South American country.So instead of just mentioning Brazil it would be positive to actually mention it musically. Second (and this is more of a personal thing), I think this album could have been stretched or more songs could have been added to it in order to make it more musically diverse. In any way, these "problems" do not actually interfere in the album's overall quality.

Rating and Final Thoughts

Even some 50 years ago, doing something new with solely a guitar was a difficult thing. Al di Meola, however, managed to do that here. Merging jazz rock, Latin and Spanish music and, occasionally, progressive rock, Elegant Gypsy accounts for one of the most impressive albums recorded in the jazz fusion genre.

If you want to listen to an album that will definitely not let you down, with impressive guitar work and guitar-led compositions, look no further: Elegant Gypsy is what you most certainly need.

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 Elegant Gypsy by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.25 | 587 ratings

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Elegant Gypsy
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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.

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 Electric Rendezvous by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.54 | 72 ratings

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Electric Rendezvous
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars "Electric Rendezvous" is as aptly a title one would ever conjure up for this original jazz-rock maestro, we would all only wish Al would do this kind of "rockier" album one more time, as too many years have passed relying on his rather mellower side. While "Land of the Midnight Sun" and "Elegant Gypsy' remain for many the acme of DiMeola's career, I have a very special spot for this more Santana-esque endeavor partnered by an awesome line-up of master musicians such as synthesizer whiz Jan Hammer (who never sounded better!), Anthony Jackson on galloping bass, Mingo Lewis on percussion and the monstrous Steve Gadd on drums, with Paco de Lucia (the dense duet on "Grace, Passion and Fire") and Philippe Saisse on board as soloists. The ease and the finesse with which these cats perform are totally exhilarating.

"Bird Dog Cage" fulminates as an opener, blasting into the free zone with little strain, giving ample room for Hammer and DiMeola to show off their rather considerable talents. The rhythm section is so tight, it will make one cringe with delighted respect. Smooth and fast, like a torrential rainstorm of talent.

The title track is even sprightlier, all kinds of frayed nerve endings in the fingers, if you see what I mean. Different styles all packed into one seamless parcel. A faint serenity begins to grow in stature, very much like classic Ponty, evolving into a series of detours, veers and contrasts. Things get even slightly dissonant for a while, swerving back into yet another mood once again, the guitar getting heavy and fiery. Sudden blasts of brass synth consecrates Hammer's complete genius in my mind, but when he dishes out a duel with Al, it's just bloody merciless. Even Anthony Jackson plays the game with style and velocity. This is so good , its absurd!

"Cruisin" has that California cool and suntanned swagger, as the bass and drums set down a groove for both Hammer and the Dman to lay down some preposterous ideas, a playful and bright melody fueled up like a shiny red Cadillac rolling down Sunset Strip, the car stereo blaring.

"Black Cat Shuffle" is the highlight here, a catty, smoldering and sweaty groove anchored tout de suite by the rhythm section, showing a terrific sense of jazzy rock and roll as Al and Jan trade electric goose bumps. And if you ever had a doubt about Al's Latin side, well its all there on display with "Ritmo de la Noche". I am pretty sure when Carlos Santana first heard this, his knee-jerk reaction would have been to call a lawyer, suggesting plagiarism but within seconds, yielding to the beauty of the melody and the tremendous playing by all involved. This is my all-time favorite DiMeola composition, loved it to death for decades. The solemn acoustic gem "Somalia" is no slouch, a deeply sad and melancholic guitar tour de force, serves a perfect segue to the previous jewel.

Speaking of which, "Jewel Inside a Dream" puts this majestic performance to bed, a soothing lullaby that showcases DiMeola's clear sense of sonic wizardry

Oh yeah, love that cover art, suits the music inside to a Tee

5 gatos negros electricos

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 Winter Nights by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1999
2.50 | 21 ratings

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Winter Nights
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Progosopher

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.

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 Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 30 ratings

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Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars I'm rating this with only three stars because for me personally this was not exactly what I enjoy in fusion. It's only the third Di Meola album I've listened to, so I'm very green to rate his albums anyway. But I did enjoy the other two more.

The playing is doubtlessly fine, the top jazz guitarist (who served in Return To Forever in the 70s and is among the most respected in jazz / fusion world) is accompanied by an accordionist, two percussionists, another guitarist and someone playing "acoustic upright baby bass" (what? an instrument for dwarfs?). None of those band members are familiar to me, unlike guest musicians such as bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Peter Erskine. Well, maybe the accordion, and a sort of World Music flavour in general, is the first feature I'm not liking much. And another is the notable Latin feel, including busy percussion, in the music. Most tracks are quite restless in rhythm instead of being melodious. This was not so much the case with my other Di Meola hearings.

I liked about 50 % of the album, among the more enjoyable tracks were those not composed by Di Meola: 'Strawberry Fields' (the Beatles tune) and 'Over the Rainbow'. If you like rhythmically hectic Latin-flavoured guitar fusion, check this one out. 15 tracks, over 72 minutes.

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 Tirami Su  by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.14 | 25 ratings

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Tirami Su
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars I only have this album in cassette format and I only had a chance to play this after I finally got a wonderful cassette deck player made in Norway: Tandberg TCD-440A (produced in 1978) - yeah! It's a vintage player and I really love the sound quality; it's natural and it has a powerful basslines. No wonder I find true joy playing the cassette of this album which opens beautifully with Beijing Demons (6:25). Even though it's not in similar vein with legendary album 'Land of Midnight Sun' or 'Elegant Gypsy' or 'Splendido Hotel' I really enjoy the music. It flows nicely in ambient mode demonstrating Al's stunning guitar work. The second track Arabella (7:14) is also another good track with vocal and latin music style. Well, actually I do not expect Al plays this style of music and initially I did not quite favor this kind of music. But when I really forget how Al's music started at the beginning in the 70s, I then realized that the music is very good and enjoyable. I can find the stunning guitar that flows beautifully throughout some tracks featured here.

I can say that Smile from a Stranger (5:43) has its roots with legendary style of Al Di Meola especially when it reaches the collaborative work of guitar and keyboard. Rhapsody of Fire (5:05) continues with another music style.

Overall, I consider this as a very good album and I recommend those of you who love jazz-rock fusion kind of music would enjoy this album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Elegant Gypsy by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.25 | 587 ratings

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Elegant Gypsy
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by dreadpirateroberts

4 stars For Elegant Gypsy, Di Meola carries a similar line-up over from his first album and produces a more consistent record. While it follows a similar pattern in structure and sequencing, it's more satisfying overall. If the songs are much the same texture-wise, using percussion, a tight rhythm section and speed-driven guitar work, along with often atmospheric keys - it's no surprise that he choose to refine the successful sound from Land of the Midnight Sun.

After the steady opening of 'Flight Over Rio' with its nice tempo shift in the middle, we have the more contemplative 'Midnight Tango' which is probably the highlight of the album. Smooth but still surprising, it's graced with evocative solos from both guitar and piano, and seems to be a step forward in arrangement for Di Meola. Here he gives the song a lot of space, choosing his moments on electric guitar carefully, while also incorporating more acoustic playing.

'Mediterranean Sundance' continues the acoustic theme - in the form of a duet between flamenco legend Paco de Lucía and Di Meola. It's stunning (and I do have a soft spot for flamenco guitar) perhaps not simply for their dazzling fretwork but the way it so effortlessly brings Spanish imagery to mind, it's one of those pieces (a little like 'Lady of Rome...') that transports your mind. While it would be revisited and expanded years later on Friday Night in San Francisco, this version is still wonderful.

Following the duet is 'Race With Devil on Spanish Highway' a menacing track that features drummer Lenny White's second fine performance on the album, and one that again displays the speed we've come to expect from Di Meola by now. 'Elegant Gypsy Suite' is a little more of a mid-tempo piece and a satisfying conclusion to the album, its bass and key sound hinting at material that would be covered on Meola's follow up 'Casino.'

Another fantastic album of Latin Jazz fusion, four stars.

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