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Album Review

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.


Born: 22 July 1954 in Jersey City, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Guitarist Al Di Meola first rose to prominence as a blazing jazz fusion player before his playing matured and he began to conquer other styles, such as acoustic Latin music. Born on July 22, 1954, in Jersey City, NJ, Di Meola briefly studied at the Berklee School of Music in Boston during the early '70s before accepting a job replacing guitarist Bill Connors in fusion trailblazers Return to Forever (a group that included such monster instrumentalists as keyboardist Chick Corea and bassist Stanley...
Full bio
Anthology, Al Di Meola
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  • 10,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Rock
  • Released: 12 October 2000

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