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Al Di Meola - Elegant Gypsy CD (album) cover


Al Di Meola


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.26 | 891 ratings

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4 stars Escape Velocity Latino Jazz Fusion

Even though DiMeola won various awards for the jazz guitarist category by Guitar Player Magazine for five years running during the latter half of the seventies more mainstream exponents of jazz wrote his playing off as being too fast and mechanical. On Elegant Gypsy, Di Meolas second solo work, that assessment more or less holds true and for the most part comes off as a go nuts Al album. By this time his mentors John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell had both overcome their musical juevenescence and Coryell would even remark that guitar playing was getting too fast with every new guy wanting to be the new boy guitar wonder. What saves the day for Al here though is the formidable abilities of his more experienced sidemen which include Anthony Jackson, Steve Gadd and Jan Hammer as well as the tutelage he recieved from Chick Corea while playing with Return To Forever between `74 and `77.

When considering the bashing he recieved from the purists one must also remember that at the time of the release of Elegant Gypsy DiMeola was only 23 years old and still in an overwhelming situation. Much like sonny who gets the keys to dad`s car for the first time and wants to discover how fast it will go, DiMeola still had that sense with the guitar as he freely admits. Incendiary as the album is, there are redeemable moments which foreshadow DiMeola`s evolution into a more rounded artist. His use of octaves for colouring as well as the variety of tones he could coax out of his Gibson Les Paul Special are notable. Flameco Maestro Paco De Lucia also drops in for an acoustic duo on Mediterranean Sundance and we also get an all too short acoustic solo in the form of Lady Of Rome, Sister Of Brazil which only clocks in at about one minute plus. Even when conjuring up some of the heavier passages on Race With Devil On Spanish Highway , laced with scales and motifs, Di Meolas fingers dance gracefully and flawlessly over the fretboard creating lustful auras, a testimony to the 12 hours-a day practice regime he subjected himself to.

Elegant Gypsy which was unquestionably a defining album in Di Meola`s career and a 70s fusion classic it firmly established him as a masterful technician. Much to Di Meolas`s bewilderment his playing on this album has also influenced countless metal guitarists including Ywinge Malmsteen. While there are plenty of explosions of speed, the electric possibilities of latino styles explored here are more than interesting. An early masterwork from one of the true masters of the guitar.

Vibrationbaby | 4/5 |


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