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AL DI MEOLA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Al Di Meola picture
Al Di Meola biography
Al Laurence Di Meola - Born July 22, 1954 (Jersey City, USA)

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...
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AL DI MEOLA discography


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

3.97 | 201 ratings
Land Of The Midnight Sun
1976
4.25 | 863 ratings
Elegant Gypsy
1977
3.77 | 185 ratings
Casino
1978
3.03 | 108 ratings
Splendido Hotel
1980
3.54 | 114 ratings
Electric Rendezvous
1982
2.75 | 59 ratings
Scenario
1983
3.07 | 44 ratings
Cielo E Terra
1985
3.25 | 45 ratings
Al Di Meola Project: Soaring Through A Dream
1985
3.15 | 44 ratings
Al Di Meola Project: Tirami Su
1987
2.60 | 57 ratings
Al Di Meola Project: Kiss My Axe
1988
3.88 | 41 ratings
World Sinfonia
1991
3.31 | 30 ratings
World Sinfonia: Heart Of The Immigrants
1993
3.21 | 49 ratings
Orange And Blue
1994
3.26 | 34 ratings
Di Meola Plays Piazzolla
1996
3.26 | 39 ratings
The Infinite Desire
1998
2.49 | 31 ratings
Winter Nights
1999
4.06 | 58 ratings
World Sinfonia: The Grande Passion
2000
4.10 | 68 ratings
Flesh On Flesh
2002
2.05 | 19 ratings
Al Di Meola & Leonid Agutin: Cosmopolitan Life
2005
1.38 | 15 ratings
Vocal Rendezvous
2006
3.76 | 54 ratings
Consequence Of Chaos
2006
3.84 | 19 ratings
Diabolic Inventions And Seduction For Solo Guitar, Volume I - Music Of Astor Piazzolla
2006
3.38 | 43 ratings
World Sinfonia: Pursuit Of Radical Rhapsody
2011
3.50 | 19 ratings
All Your Life - A Tribute to the Beatles
2013
3.14 | 17 ratings
Elysium
2015
3.93 | 38 ratings
Opus
2018
3.32 | 13 ratings
Across the Universe
2020

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

4.01 | 34 ratings
Tour De Force: Live
1982
3.95 | 3 ratings
Andrea Parodi & Al Di Meola: Midsummer Night In Sardinia- Armentos
2005
3.75 | 4 ratings
Live In London ( Al Di Meola World Sinfonia)
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
He And Carmen (with Eszter Horgas)
2008
3.96 | 5 ratings
La Melodia Live In Milano (Al Di Meola World Sinfonia)
2008
3.75 | 4 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
2.00 | 1 ratings
Al Di Meola & Leonid Agutin: Cosmopolitan Live
2007
4.17 | 5 ratings
Speak A Volcano - Return To Electric Guitar (DVD)
2007
4.50 | 2 ratings
Morocco Fantasia
2012

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

4.50 | 2 ratings
Greatest Hits
1990
3.57 | 8 ratings
The Best of Al Di Meola: Manhattan Years
1992
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Essence of Al Di Meola
1994
4.00 | 1 ratings
Accoustic Anthology
1995
4.04 | 6 ratings
This Is Jazz, Vol. 31
1997
4.02 | 11 ratings
Anthology (1975-1982)
2000
5.00 | 1 ratings
Revisited
2003
3.05 | 2 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
 Al Di Meola Project: Kiss My Axe by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1988
2.60 | 57 ratings

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Al Di Meola Project: Kiss My Axe
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars This albums marks a return to a great shape for Meola. It contains brilliant playing on acoustic and electric guitars and what has not been always the case, an attention to detail and decent compositions. Rhythmically, the album is on top of the game; there plenty of speed changes, irregular beats and great percussion. Music is often dynamic, compositions varied and there are also quieter moments led by keyboards or percussion. Unlike some other Meola albums, there isn't only a heart and passion here but also a soul. Inspiration draws from contemporary fusion, world music (Latin and Middle East) and modern jazz. The obvious magnet for many will be the title track, a decent dynamic fusion number with a distinct motive/melody. If the album were 10 minutes shorter, I would rate it by an additional half-star.
 Elegant Gypsy by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.25 | 863 ratings

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Elegant Gypsy
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars The album starts quite lightly but the fusion high-star band with Jan Hammer on some tracks make it fly 100km/h with great guitar-Moog duets reminding of Mahavishnu. The combination with congos and intensive Latin feeling are irresistible.

Midnight is a mellower track and I like its spacy textures, acoustic piano and even a bass melody.

"Mediterranean sundance" is arguably Meola's best known composition and interestingly, on acoustic guitar. His leads the track all the way through. Next comes a heavy rhythmically driven ferocious fusion number, marvellous guitar pyrotechnics alternated with relaxed keyboard driven parts. If you think this the climax, then wait until the final suite that is more melodic and varied, also bringing back Hammer while Meola utilizes acoustic and electric guitars. A must have of guitar-driven fusion.

 All Your Life - A Tribute to the Beatles by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.50 | 19 ratings

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All Your Life - A Tribute to the Beatles
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the most respected fusion guitarists all time, Al Di Meola first received fame in Chick Corea's group Return To Forever before launching his solo career in the mid-70's. His musical style is very flexible, combining elements of jazz, rock, classical and ethnic music. Doing a tribute album of The Beatles songs had been a long-time dream for him. "It simply was a search to find a way to combine my world (whatwver that is) into theirs, as I set out to do when I recorded the soo guitar CD of Piazzolla in 2006", Di Meola writes in his liner notes in which he praises the personal and universal importance of The Beatles, his excitement to work in the Abbey Road studios and his haphazard meeting with Paul McCartney in Hampton in May 2012. The over-usage of exlamation marks in his text underlines Di Meola's sincere passion for the project!

So, this is a solo guitar work. Some tunes also feature his co-producer Hernan Romero on hand claps and chaca rhythm. The selection of 14 Lennon/McCartney songs (no George Harrison compositions included) is in my opinion fairly nice if not truly ideal. The early catchy hits are mostly absent. Sadly there aren't much from the two final Beatles albums either, only 'Because' from Abbey Road. The selection is emphasized on the c. 1965-67 era; for example four pieces from Sgt. Pepper. The originals such as 'A Day in the Life' and 'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite' are are so rich and perfect sonically that a solo guitar interpretation may feel rather inferior in comparison.

That's simply the price to pay in a project like this, especially when dealing with such well-known classic stuff that many a listener has a very close relationship with. Without a doubt there are more cover recordings of The Beatles compositions than of any other band, both sung and instrumental, in every imaginable style/genre I suppose, from Baroque to smooth jazz. And it's safe to say that most of them fail to impress deeply. I think this album is easily among the most succesful artistically of those -- not so many -- I've listened to. Al Di Meola's skills on the acoustic guitar are awesome, and his arrangements are inspired and as rich as pieces for a solo instrument can possibly be. If I felt somewhat disappointed by the opening track 'In My Life' featuring the hand clapping, during the near 55-minute album I began to enjoy it more and more. A special mention for 'Eleanor Rigby'. I don't know how its arrangement was done but it sounds like there was a string section. Elsewhere it's often the ripped-down approach that brings up the song's melodic essence in a fresh way, for example the closing piece 'She's Leaving Home'.

And despite the above mentioned risk of feeling inferior to the original songs, it's a certainty that knowing the compositions helps me to enjoy this album. I mean, a regular solo guitar album of unfamiliar compositions would probably tire me on the long run.

This is a sincere labour of love by an extraordinary musician. The ideal setting for listening to this album would be with a sweetheart sharing your interest in both The Beatles and peaceful acoustic instrumental music, more or less as a background music for your cozy time together.

 Anthology (1975-1982) by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2000
4.02 | 11 ratings

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Anthology (1975-1982)
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by JazzFusionGuy

4 stars Okay, okay -- he's fast, he's suave, slick, and oh so technically clean. Di Meola's furious, flamenco, fandango, fusion guitar work stands alone. Very few have really ever gained exact echoes of his style. That muted percussive staccato riffage with explosive lead breaks and sudden stop-n- go colorings of tone and note texture have always been impressive. Most folks came to know "Al D" via Return To Forever. He replaced Bill Connors. This gave a RTF a very different feel guitar-wise. Al D's style seemed to mesh very naturally with Chick Corea's leanings towards that Latin American and Spanish heart of things. Others came to discover Al D upon hearing his solo releases. I will have to say that to this day, my fav will always be his debut solo effort with Land of the Midnight Sun. Al D was trying so hard early on to express his own song-writing voice and excel on his instrument. An earnest, vital effort pours through everywhere. And so this 2CD anthology begins perfectly with the best cuts from that debut. I indeed purchased all Al D's releases year by year just to see how he would progress. This anthology fortunately represents most of the strongest songs from these solo works. What has bothered me about many of Al D's tunes from album to album was a certain predictable manner in riffs, song flow, and voicings. Al D has always had this leaning towards a . . . "balladic, romantic adventure, conquering hero saga" . . . song flow with latin rhythms, smooth jazz breaks, then crunch and overdrive guitars, and then back to that late-day stroll on the veranda kind of feel. Catch my drift? When I was seeking harder fusion and jazz rock leanings, I had to endure extended world jazz and romantic guitars. But hey -- many folks flocked to this mix and how sweet it was for Al D. Most of the cuts on both CDs represent some truly fine historic jams and superb fusion interplay betwixt the likes of Phil Collins, Jaco, Jan Hammer, Simon Phillips, Alphonse Mouzon, Anthony Jackson, and Lenny White to mention a few. Both discs feature unreleased live material. Four tracks of twenty are a brand new bonus listen. I found Al D doing "Theme To The Mothership" pretty interesting. An excess of Al Di Meola collections and best of's are circulating out there but you're most likely doing a best service to your ears just grabbing this one. There is more than enough of Al D here to satisfy.
 Al Di Meola & Leonid Agutin: Cosmopolitan Live by DI MEOLA, AL album cover DVD/Video, 2007
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Al Di Meola & Leonid Agutin: Cosmopolitan Live
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars I really have no passion to review this dvd, but since I saw the trouble of borrowing it and adding it to Al Di Meola's discography, I'll finish the process. So, the American jazz /fusion /world music guitarist Al Di Meola is among those musicians I appreciate (without being a fan or true connoisseur, though). I didn't know in advance who is Leonid Agutin: he's a singer from Moscow, one of the biggest rock stars from Russia. I have nothing against his singing, his warm and slightly raspy voice is fairly good.

Their collaborative album Cosmopolitan Life (2005) undoubtedly was well noticed in certain music circles and must have increased international recognition of both artists, or at least that seems to have been the goal. Had I read the album's sole two-star review here, I probably wouldn't have bothered. The music is strongly Latin flavoured pop sung in English. I'm completely out of my homefield, but if I refer to artists such as Ricky Martin and Juanes, you may get some idea. Sure, especially Di Meola's guitar playing is fine, but the overall production is too big and calculated. The musical spirit of the songs is either very outgoing and danceable or more romantic and ballad oriented with a laid back summer holiday mood.

But the dvd itself feels like an extended promotional stuff. By the way it was not until I actually viewed the disc that I could get the contents correctly here. Very messy and misleading it was at first, relying on what's printed. The main dish is the concert at Montreux Jazz Festival, featuring six songs starring Leonid Agutin and three instrumentals highlighting Al Di Meola's talent.

The Montreux section is sandwiched between a lengthy documentary of this international collaboration -- lots of clips from various concerts across the world, bits of interviews, also some clips from music videos -- and the "Xtras" section featuring three music videos and three TV clips. The whole feels, as I said, terribly emphasized on the advertisement-like promo stuff, and very repetitive especially for the reappearance of the title track. The video of 'Cosmopolitan Life' is almost tasteless with the cliched party-party dancing girls wearing less and less. The documentary has no subtitles which is another minus. The target audience is definitely elsewhere than within listeners of prog and fusion. I would't recommend this dvd even to fans of Al Di Meola as a fusion artist. Listeners of commercially oriented Latin rock/pop might enjoy the music.

 Casino by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.77 | 185 ratings

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Casino
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. A pretty big step down in my opinion from "Elegant Gypsy" an album I have in my top 50 Jazz albums of all time so my respect is huge for that one. "Casino" sure has it's moments though, I mean if Al is on your album there's going to be some majestic moments but there's a few tracks that are average for my tastes so it's one of those high and low records hence the 3.5 star rating. No Jan Hammer or Lenny White this time around and while I like Barry Miles keyboard work he's just not that audible on this album at times. I'll hear him on the electric piano for example but at times I have to really listen for him, he's not the focus. And after saying that he's the first thing you hear on the opener "Egyptian Danza" playing organ(haha). There's a couple of percussionists and Dimeola does some of that too. Anthony Jackson on bass and Steve Gadd on drums.

Dimeola is the star here of course and there's not too many guitarists as fast and as fluid as he is. I'm not big on the acoustic stuff like on the "Fantasia Suite" and the 9 1/2 minute closer was good but should have been great being it's the title track. Not into "Dark Eye Tango" but really like the song before it "Chasin' The Voodoo". My favourite is "Senor Mouse" opening with drums and percussions as the guitar rides along shotgun but he's actually shooting everything in sight. While I'm not into casinos at all I am into this record but I can't pull out that fourth star.

 The Infinite Desire by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.26 | 39 ratings

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The Infinite Desire
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The American jazz/fusion guitarist and composer Al DiMeola seems to get the best PA ratings for his earliest albums from the latter half of the 70's. I'm familiar with only a small bunch of his albums, and less so with the early ones. Anyway, I quite enjoy this particular album with a rather lukewarm reception here.

The contributors pretty much vary from track to track, keyboardist Rachel Z clearly being the most consistent one. Al himself uses a great variety of instruments on this electric and accessible album entirely composed by him. 'Beyond the Mirage' is a very nice opener. There's a shadow of digitally programmed over-production in sight, but due to rich and energetic playing full of fine, fast melodies the outcome stays positive. The next, mellower piece has some world music flavour and reminds me of Pat Metheny, my fave jazz musician.

Overall there is plenty of sonic and atmospheric variety, and while some tracks out of twelve may not be so interesting, and some are perhaps slightly too long, the 67 minutes mostly go very pleasantly. Unlike another reviewer, I generally enjoy the peaceful compositions such as the romantic title track and the brief, acoustic 'Azzura'.

On the aptly titled 'Race With Devil on Turkish Highway' DiMeola gets into an el.guitar battle with Steve Vai. Things like that keep the more energy-favouring listeners awake. The cool trumpet samples on 'Valentina' are by DiMeola. Tha album closes with a vocal version of the title track, sung by Pino Daniele. My biggest complaint concerns the sound of programmed percussion which is too much present. Drummers Peter Erskine and Ernie Adams appear only on two tracks each. But despite that I warmly recommend this album to listeners of guitar oriented fusion and artists such ad Pat Metheny.

 Across the Universe by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.32 | 13 ratings

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Across the Universe
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Heart of the Matter

3 stars I can hardly belive that this nice treat of an album (entirely dedicated to cover Beatles songs) is going almost unnoticed, so here I am trying to be fair with it. And being fair I must also pronounce the already traditional warning: this is not progressive stuff stricto sensu, but rather a likable-for-proggers-too record, like many ones we love are.

Being this more like a candy box than a concept album, Iet's go and taste some sweeties: Important as openers are in giving the first impression, 01 Here Comes the Sun assumes the well-known accoustic charm of Harrison's original with virtuosism and innovative changes in pace and signature. Then 02 Golden Slumbers Medley goes for every proghead's throat with a tastefully symphonic rendition of a staple in every McCartney's concert. Also, if you look for improvisational skill and oriental flavor, you will find that in 04 Norwegian Wood.

Of course, there's the weak and the unnecessary too, but, who's perfect? 03 Dear Prudence misses the harmonic strangeness of Lennon's own original, and 14 Octopus's Garden is just puerile. Compensating for that, there's the outside Beatles fandom lesser-known 10 I'll Follow the Sun, a moment of pure McCartney-style nostalgia.

Well, what are you people waiting for? Go for it!

 Splendido Hotel by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.03 | 108 ratings

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Splendido Hotel
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mark-P

3 stars Back to 90's, this album was for me an introduction to the music of Al di Meola. After hearing more of his albums, I know this one is not his masterpiece, but still it is very memorable to me. Al uses a lot of acoustics guitar in this album, and most of the songs have a good theme. Those are among best parts of this album.

At least there are two tracks that in my opinion should be listed among Al di Meola's best songs. The first is 'Alien Chase on Arabian Desert'. This nearly 9-minute composition with Latin rock flavor, some progressive elements and mood changes. Al uses both acoustics and electric guitars.

The second is Al duet with Chick Corea in 'Two for Tango'. I really love the chemistry between them. This song has a nice theme, which is played in several different keys and paces. Al uses a lot of fast-picked muted notes and overdubbed counterpoint with lovely piano arrangement by Chick Corea.

There are other memorable tracks like 'Silent Story in Her Eyes', 'Isfahan', 'Splendido Sundace' and lovely 'Bianca's Midnight Lullaby'.

Good album with at least two brilliant songs (.. and three stars).

 Elysium by DI MEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.14 | 17 ratings

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Elysium
Al Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Al Di Meola's 2015 album is another gem from his current mature period, and close enough in spirit to his subsequent (and recommended) "Opus" that it might almost be considered a dry-run for the later session. The music is almost identical: subdued, mostly acoustic Math Jazz fusion, if such an ungainly hybrid even exists.

Each of the fourteen short tracks was impeccably arranged and played, but can sometimes be a little too detached in their dispassionate complexity. The guitarist was a month shy of his sixty-first birthday when the album was released, and his trademark white-lightning solos had become almost incidental to the more classical muse he was pursuing at the time.

The album is also arguably longer than it needed to be: a common complaint since the (premature) demise of vinyl. Too much of a good thing isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can certainly present a challenge with music of such clinical virtuosity. The unfortunate cover photo - another in a series of dour, narcissistic Di Meola self-portraits - is, for better or worse, an accurate illustration of the music on offer: handsome yes, but lacking the natural warmth and vitality of his earliest recordings.

In all, an admirable effort, with moments of genuine instrumental beauty ("Ardour"; "Babylon"). But the album probably won't excite much enthusiasm, as you might have noticed from this lukewarm yet wholehearted endorsement.

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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