Posted 08 February 2005 - 08:14 AM
Al Di Meola's status as a guitar hero is undisputed. A world renowned guitarist who has been feted in the pages of countless guitar magazines over the past three decades. A plecotrist of uncommon passion and uncanny facility, Di Meola first exploded onto the music scene in 1974 with Return to Forever, the premier fusion band of the '70s. He established himself as a bandleader in his own right with a series of exhilarating albums and tours through the '70s and early '80s. His composerly vision matured and blossomed through the '80s - this time-period included a couple of recordings and triumphant tours with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia in an acoustic guitar supergroup known as The Trio - and he has remained a creative force in the '90s, eager to explore music from other cultures while staying true to his own muse.
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on July 22, 1954,Al Di Meola grew up with the music of The Ventures, The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Drums were his first instrument, but by age eight he had switched to guitar. By his early teens, Al was already an accomplished player, though he felt somewhat ostracized from the local clique of musicians. In the '60s, if you didn't play like Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page, you weren't accepted, . Al was never really accepted by that group of so-called friends in Bergenfield because they didn't know what to make of his style. Even though he wanted to learn Beatles and Ventures music when he began taking lessons, his teacher (Bob Aslanian) also made him learn jazz and bossa nova and a little classical, so he had all this technique that his friends couldn't understand. It never fit the kind of music that they were playing. They were interested in his technique but at the same time they were jealous of it.
A big influence on his music outlook during his formative years was the burgeoning hybrid of rock and jazz that came to be known as fusion music. Guitarist Larry Coryell, whom Al later dubbed 'The Father of Fusion,' became a particular focus of interest. Di Meola used to ride the bus from New Jersey to see him play at little clubs in Greenwich Village Wherever he was playing, Al would be there."
Following an intensive period of woodshedding between his junior and senior years in high school, in which he practiced the guitar from eight to ten hours a day, Al emerged with impressive chops and a clear idea of how to apply them. Al was trying to find Himself find the kind of music that suited where he was going with the guitar. Al started listening to bluegrass, especially Doc Watson, which really helped him develop his speed. He becamse a fan of players such as dug Tal Farlow and Kenny Burrell at the time but at the same time also knew that it wasn't what he ultimately wanted to do. He wanted to do something new, something nobody was doing.
In 1971, Al enrolled at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. By the second semester, he was playing in a fusion quartet led by keyboardist Barry Miles. It was in the early part of 1974 that he recieved the fateful call from Chick Corea. He was just sitting around his apartment in Boston on a Friday afternoon when Chick called and asked him to come to a rehearsal in New York couldn't believe it. It was really a dream come true. In 10 minutes he packed some clothes in a bag, got a ride to New York and never saw that apartment in Boston again.
Following a weekend of rehearsals with that band, Return to Forever, Di Meola made his debut with RTF at Carnegie Hall. The next night he played to a crowd of 40.000 in Atlanta. His star quickly ascended.
After three wildly successful landmark fusion albums with Corea on keyboards, Stanley Clarke on bass, Lenny White on drums and Di Meola on guitar - Where Have I Known You Before, the Grammy Award winning No Mystery and Romantic Warrior - RTF disbanded in 1976, effectively launching Al's solo career. He called the breakup a blessing in disguise. saying that it was probably for the best because they each got a chance to develop their own careers and get to know what it was like to be a leader and producer and just be out on their own.
He debuted in 1976 with Land Of The Midnight Sun, a typically blazing showcase of his frenetic, slashing style which also featured performances by drummers Leny White and Steve Gadd, percussionist Mingo Lewis, synth wizards Jan Hammer and Barry Miles, bassists Anthony Jackson and Jaco Pastorius. Over the course of six more albums with Columbia Records - Casino, Elegant Gypsy, Splendido Hotel, Electric Rendezvous, Tour De Force and Scenario - Di Meola firmly established himself as a powerful and influential force in contemporary music. He went on to record a string of highly evocative, pan-global projects for the Manhattan/EMI, Tomato and Mesa/Bluemoon labels before signing with Telarc. His 17 records have sold over six million copies to date.
Di Meola continues to conquer new musical horizons on The Infinite Desire, which features his most extensive and effective use of midi technology to date. And wether he's triggering orchestral layers of rich sampled sounds or dealing with the acoustic purity of flesh and fingers on nylon strings, he still approaches his ax with uncommon conviction. At age 44, this bonafide guitar hero is still growing as an artist, still searching for new modes of expression, still eager to push the envelope on his astounding technique while bringing a new depth of feeling to bear in his playing, as he does so successfully on The Infinite Desire.
Land Of The Midnight Sun:1976
Cielo E Terra:1985
Soaring Through A Dream:1985
Kiss My Axe:1991
World Sinfonia II-Heart Of The Immigrants:1993
Orange And Blue:1994
Di Meola Plays Piazolla:1996
The Infinate Desire:1998
The Grande Passion:2000
Flesh On Flesh:2002
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