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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released March 13, 2020 | earMUSIC

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With his new album Across the Universe that has just come out, Al Di Meola reminds us of his passion for The Beatles. Like 2013's All Your Life before it, this record is entirely dedicated to the Fab Four, with covers of hits (Strawberry Fields Forever, Hey Jude, Yesterday) as well as less well-known hidden gems (Julia). The album cover is also a distinct nod to John Lennon's solo 1975 album Rock'n'Roll: a well-rounded homage. In amongst all the various tributes to The Beatles nowadays, this one is extremely well executed, namely because Al Di Meola stays himself from start to finish. Jazz fusion, flamenco, rock... it's all in the mix. His legendary talent beautifully complements the melodic genius of the Lennon/McCartney duo. The instrumental pyrotechnics that drive Al Di Meola fans crazy are bolstered here by tablas, brass, strings and even some accordion. The only (slight) downside is that this opus focuses exclusively on ballads... we would have loved to hear this guitar hero taken on Helter Skelter or Revolution! ©️ Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released February 23, 2018 | earMUSIC

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The tortured artist, the virtuoso overshadowing the composer, all of this is behind him. Now 63 years old, Al Di Meola presents Opus, a first in many respects. Probably annoyed to be seen as nothing else than an artificer on the guitar, the American from Jersey City wants to remind everyone that he’s also a top-tier composer. An ambition he combines with a new personal situation. “This album marks a new era in my life, explains he who topped the charts in 1980 with Friday Night in San Francisco in a trio with his colleagues Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin. For the first time in my life, I have written music being happy! Until now I’ve always been this cliché of the tortured artist who can only write in a very tense context… But now, I’m in a wonderful relationship with my wife, I have a baby girl and a beautiful family that inspire me every day. I believe it shows in my music.” And Opus indeed exudes serenity. In the richness of its sound, in the multiple colours of melodies, but also in the spaces and silences he inserts in his music, Al Di Meola sculpts simple and beautiful music, in which no filler is ever present. Smooth but not plain, here is an album that will delight his most faithful fans. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1977 | Columbia

Guitarist Al di Meola's second record as a leader is generally an explosive affair, although it does have a fair amount of variety. With Jan Hammer or Barry Miles on keyboards, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Lenny White (Steve Gadd takes his place on the "Elegant Gypsy Suite"), and percussionist Mingo Lewis on most of the selections, di Meola shows off his speedy and rock-ish fusion style. He was still a member of Return to Forever at the time and was a stronger guitarist than composer, but di Meola did put a lot of thought into this music. The brief "Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil" (an acoustic guitar solo) and "Mediterranean Sundance" (an acoustic duet with fellow guitarist Paco de Lucía) hints at di Meola's future directions. A near classic in the fusion vein. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released April 12, 1985 | Manhattan Records

Having grown a bit weary of playing loud fusion, Al DiMeola recorded a largely acoustic set on his debut for Manhattan. DiMeola, who augments his acoustic guitar with the orchestral Synclavier guitar, plays five unaccompanied solos and is joined on the other four numbers by percussionist Airto Moreira. Other than Keith Jarrett's "Coral," all of the moody selections are by the guitarist. An interesting, if not overly memorable, atmospheric set. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 17, 1990 | Columbia - Legacy

Talk about ambitious. This two-LP set finds guitarist Al di Meola performing with his quintet of the time (featuring keyboardist Philippe Saisse), with studio musicians, solo, in a reunion with pianist Chick Corea, singing a love song, and welcoming veteran Les Paul for a version of "Spanish Eyes." Most of the music works quite well and it shows that di Meola (best-known for his speedy rock-oriented solos) is a surprisingly well-rounded and versatile musician. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 14, 1978 | Legacy Recordings

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Jazz - Released November 19, 1991 | earMUSIC

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Jazz - Released March 18, 2011 | Di Meola - Songsurfer

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Pop/Rock - Released October 1, 1976 | Columbia

One of the guitar heroes of fusion, Al di Meola was just 22-years-old at the time of his debut as a leader but already a veteran of Chick Corea's Return to Forever. The complex pieces (which include the three-part "Suite-Golden Dawn," an acoustic duet with Corea on "Short Tales of the Black Forest," and a brief Bach violin sonata show di Meola's range even at this early stage. With assistance from such top players as bassists Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke, keyboardist Barry Miles, and drummers Lenny White and Steve Gadd, this was a very impressive beginning to di Meola's solo career. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 2, 2015 | Valiana - Songsurfer

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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released September 13, 2013 | earMUSIC

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Jazz - Released July 20, 2018 | earMUSIC

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Released in February 2018, Opus was a highlight in Al Di Meola’s career in many regards. The tormented artist, the virtuoso obscuring the composer, all of that seemed to be in the guitarist’s past. To the point that at 63, he presented this disc as a premiere. Probably tired of being sometimes only perceived as a six-string pyrotechnician, the American from Jersey City wanted to remind here that he was also a high-profile composer. And this Opus indeed exudes true serenity. In the richness of its sound, in the many colors of the melodies but also in the spaces and silences that crept into his playing, Al Di Meola shaped music filled with simple beauty and where padding has no place. Without asperities but never bland, this album satisfied his long-time fans… Five months later, the same Al Di Meola takes advantage of this clear return to grace to also remind us that the stage is his favorite playground. With Elegant Gypsy & More Live, he gathers recent live versions, as virtuoso as possible, of his hits Race With Devil On Spanish Highway, Fight Over Rio, Midnight Tango and Egyptian Danza, but also various covers (impressive reinterpretations of Chick Corea’s Señor Mouse and Led Zep’s Black Dog!)… In a careful blend of jazz fusion, rock ‘n’ roll and world music that he’s the only master of, John McLaughlin’s and Paco de Lucia’s former accomplice (no one has forgotten their famous Friday Night In San Francisco from 1981) makes his art shine brightly. It’s as impressive as always. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1981 | Columbia

Al di Meola's fifth of seven fusion albums as a leader for Columbia is a typically fiery effort, with di Meola joined by keyboardist Jan Hammer, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist Mingo Lewis, and guest spots for flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía ("Passion, Grace & Fire") and keyboardist Philippe Saisse. This lesser-known effort is easily recommended to fans of rock-ish jazz guitar. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 13, 1991 | earMUSIC

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Jazz - Released March 18, 2011 | Telarc

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Blue Note Records

This is the best of Al di Meola's years with the Manhattan label, which only included three releases: Cielo e Terra, Soaring Through a Dream, and Tirami Su. The selections here are an adequate representation of his output during this three-session stint, so this is fine for the casual fan. Those with more interest are encouraged to check out all three of the aforementioned releases, as they are all excellent. © Robert Taylor /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 3, 1994 | earMUSIC

Al di Meola's passion for the acoustic guitar has not diminished his love of electric music. Upon collaboration with Gibson, the Al di Meola Jazz Guitar was issued. In stark contrast to his customary Les Paul, this guitar is a large hollow-body similar to an L-5. The jazz guitar allows di Meola to achieve a warmer tone; however, he seemed to be going through a Pat Metheny stage at the time of this recording. The upside is that di Meola's solos combine his remarkable control with a newfound sense of swing, the downside being that he seems to have lost some of his identity. "Chilean Pipe Song" stands as one of di Meola's most memorable compositions. The supporting cast of Mario Parmisano and Peter Erskine greatly enhance the music, as each is a distinguishable and tasteful musician. Erskine particularly shines on "Summer Country Song." The one burner here is "Casmir," a fast-paced tune reminiscent of the Elegant Gypsy days. "On My Own" features di Meola's debut on piano. It is by no means anything spectacular, but it does reaffirm his continued exploration and growth. The strong playing and quality of the compositions make this recommended despite the Metheny flavorings. © Robert Taylor /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 22, 2000 | Columbia

Sony's third anthology of Return to Forever guitarist Al di Meola's Columbia Records years hits most of the bases and scores extra points by adding four previously unavailable live tracks that account for a whopping 40 minutes of playing time. The double disc features 16 songs from di Meola's seven albums for the label from 1975-1983 and successfully covers highlights from the jazz guitar fusionist's eclectic styles during his early career. Only 22 when his first solo album, Land of the Midnight Sun, was released, di Meola had already cut his teeth for three years with Chick Corea's Return to Forever, and although his style owed a lot to Corea's vision, he had already defined his sound. The guitarist's precise attack, staccato playing, furious speed, and heavily percussive arrangements would serve him well throughout these formative years. Even though he was often criticized for playing too many notes (just listen to the frantic, head-spinning beginning of "Suite: Golden Dawn" from Land of the Midnight Sun), di Meola's more subtle roots in Latin, flamenco, funk, and rock are evident in almost all of his work. He even incorporates strains of the world music that later became the dominant force in his recordings. Although there is evidence of a softer approach, the majority of Anthology concentrates on the hyperactive fret-hopping ability of the young di Meola as he tries to prove he's the fastest guitarist in the world. Even on the acoustic, newly released live tracks from 1978 like the 11-minute "Medley: Short Tales from the Black Forest/Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars," the results are anything but laid-back. Oddly, the disc does not include anything from di Meola's two predominately unplugged trio albums, when he partnered with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía for a tremendously successful guitar summit. With three tracks off Tour de Force: Live and another four from concerts in 1982 and 1978, this disc includes almost an hour of di Meola and his versatile and talented bands tearing it up in front of appreciative audiences. While that makes for some hot guitar showcases, it also focuses too heavily on his frantic fingering, a style which gets wearing over the long haul. The audio fidelity of the newly released live songs is also of substantially inferior quality (the 1982 selections are particularly bad, with the drums sounding like trash cans), making them even more difficult to listen to. But with almost two and a half hours of music, along with liner notes that feature pertinent quotes from the artist, there's plenty on these discs to enjoy. Fret-shredders of all ages will undoubtedly be inspired by the astounding musicianship exemplified here. It's not a full picture of the guitarist's skills, but Anthology is a well-chosen compilation of a major portion of di Meola's career. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Tango - Released January 1, 2006 | Di Meola Productions

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Jazz - Released August 19, 1983 | Columbia

With this recording, Al di Meola thankfully left behind the pop-fusion sound that he had perfected with Jan Hammer. This was his first venture using the Roland guitar synthesizer and a drum machine. The technology used on this recording sounds dated, but the intent seems genuine. Jan Hammer's Miami Vice sound can be heard throughout, especially on "Sequencer"; di Meola places more emphasis on composition and production than on his famous technique. This turns out to be a refreshing change, but it would have been nice to hear him jam with Phil Collins on "Island Dreamer" rather than lying back on what turns out to be a disappointing collaboration. "Calliope" finds di Meola aligned with Bill Bruford and Tony Levin, although this too turns out to be a disappointment. Certainly a turning point in di Meola's career, but hardly at the level of his later output. © Robert Taylor /TiVo

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Al Di Meola in the magazine