Al Di Meola And Band
Al Di Meola has not been around near as long as some other equally well-known jazz musicians and guitarists. Not yet fifty years old, Al has pretty much done it all. It seems as if I remember a pop oriented recording of well-known tunes maybe almost thirty years ago as well as a recording with the legendary Les Paul. I do not believe he can continue to be categorized any longer. Formerly known as an electric guitar player setting the way with his vision of jazz and fusion. He was often rather electrifying, figuratively, in those days. He then ventured extensively into fusion with a true international basis, usually while playing acoustic guitar. He toured with a couple of groups and eventually formed his own group.
Half the eight compositions on this CD are by Al and the remainder he did the arrangements for. It is tempting and easy to criticize any recording that has the featured artist playing his own compositions and arrangements as being repetitious to a great extent. That could be done here to a certain extent, but I will refrain from doing so. The first two tracks, "Zona Desperata" and "Innamorata" set the stage for the entire recording and encompasses what Di Meola has been doing the past few years. Jazz and fusion are here joined with obvious Latin influences and specific memories of places such as Portugal, Cuba and Brazil. Often the playing is almost frenetic but does not quite overstep the boundaries of good musicianship. Al is able to now control his high-powered showmanship. The third track, "Meninas" was quite appealing and shows great restraint and excellent integration of electric and acoustic guitars, acoustic piano and bass flute. The beautiful melodies and playing earn it a cool jazz, a very cool and smooth jazz appellation from me. Perhaps that is because "Meninas" is the Portuguese word for "girls". All tracks were recorded down the road from me in Miami, Florida.
It is getting to the point where I hardly know what to say about the sound or recording quality on this and many of the other recent Telarc recordings. Everything is being done so professionally and well, there is seldom much to criticize. Fortunately the engineers, such as Michael Bishop have resisted overemphasizing the featured artists. The studio recordings give a reasonable perspective and all is clean, clear and unexaggerated here. It is recommended in all respects and gains another feather in Telarc's cap.