Di Meola, Al - The Infinite Desire

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Telarc
Catalog Number: CD 83433
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:11:00

Although I have only been familiar with Al Di Meola since the release of Orange And Blue a few years back, and have only a heard a few other of his releases, including this, The Infinte Desire, I can verily say that Di Meola is not your generic, run of the mill jazz artist. While so many new artists are beginning to sound the same, most noticably among saxophonists, it seems it is the jazz guitarists that blaze the trails.

Think of John Scofield, Craig Chaquico, and Russ Freeman (but a few - other - examples) - neither of these gentlemen sound the same and none of them sound like Al Di Meola. Oh, sure there's going to be similiar tones, if they are playing like guitars - the guitars themselves have their own character - but Chaquico's style of play, Di Meola's style of play, etc., is so distinctive.

But, even beyond that, Di Meola has a very progressive spirit to his music, exploring interesting sonic territories at every turn. The music on this album is inspired by the paintings of Italian artist Andrea Vizzini - his work is sprinkled throughout the booklet, and is the cover for the album.

Here, as on other releases, Di Meola's guitar tones are often warm, even as he's racing up and down the fretboard. Acoustic guitars tend to be warmer than electric anyway, but also note choice and sequence plays a big factor. Di Meola plays both here, mainly Gibson electrics; the only acoustic named is the Ovation.

Playing with Di Meola on this set are Mario Parmisiano on piano and keyboards, Tom Kennedy on bass, Rachel Z on piano, Gumbi Ortiz playing congas and percussion, Ernie Adams on drums, as well as guests such as Herbie Hancock, Steve Vai, John Patitucci, and Peter Erksine, among others.

The music here is so sonically rich that it takes several listens to even begin to take it in. On "Valentina" for example, bright guitar lines are overlaid upon a brassy, sweet trumpet (a VG8 sample, but I had to read the production notes to tell), deep, resonating bass lines, gentle cymbal works, and subtle keyboard phrases.

"Race With Devil on Turkish Highway" is a speedy jazz track that is closer to progressive rock than anything else on the album - both Di Meola and Vai smoke here, as implied by the title of the piece (a follow up/sequel/companion to "Race With The Devil On Spanish Highway" from 1977's Elegant Gypsy).

Gentle piano and soft flute notes over vocalizations give "Shaking The Spirits" a very ethereal quality. When Di Meola's clear, warm acoustic notes join in, the music swirls around, caressing in a knowing way - your ancestors have come to check in on you, reassuring themselves you're doing okay. There are so many elements taking part in this track and yet it is extremly cohesive.

"Vizzini" has an air of familiarity about it, though I can't quite place it. The arrangement is open, sparing in its instrumentation - guitar, bass, piano and keys, and light percussion. Kennedy coaxes some interesting rhythms from his bass, as the tempo and complexity are ramped up - vaque Middle-Eastern patterns emerge and submerge throughout.

As this is Di Meola's Telarc debut (recent past discs have been on the Blue Moon label), the liner notes not only speak of Di Meola in terms of this disk, but in general terms, refering to Di Meola as a "bona fide guitar hero." That he is, and this is just one more piece of evidence. Recommended.

Beyond The Mirage (7:18) / Shaking The Sprits (6:30) / Vizzini (4:54) / In My Mother's Eyes (Memory Of Theresa) (4:41) / The Infinite Desire (5:26) / Invention Of The Monsters (3:06) / Istanbul (8:00) / Azzura (2:55) / Big Sky Azzura (6:07) / Race With Devil On Turkish Highway (4:03) / Valentina (4:44) / The Infinite Desire (5:27)

Ai Di Meola - guitars, percussion, marimba, harp, and finger cymbals
Mario Parmisiano - piano and keyboards
Tom Kennedy - bass
Rachel Z - piano
Gumbi Ortiz - congas and percussion
Ernie Adams - drums

Herbie Hancock - acoustic piano (7)
Steve Vai - guitar (10)
John Patitucci - acoustic bass (4, 12)
Peter Erksine - drums (7)
Pino Daniele - vocals (12)
Layla Francesca - vocal (2)
Oriana Di Meola - solo voice intro and chorus

Land Of The Midnight Sun (1976)
Elegant Gypsy (1977)
Casino (1978)
Splendido Hotel (1980)
Friday Night In San Francisco (1981) (w/John McLaughlin and Paco De Lucia)
Electric Rendezvous (1982)
Tour De Force- 'Live' (1982)
Passion, Grace & Fire (1983) (w/McLaughlin and De Lucia)
Cielo E Terra (1985)
The Al Di Meola Project: Tiramisu (1987)
Kiss My Axe (1991)
World Sinfonia (1991)
The Best of Al Di Meola: The Manhattan Years
(1992) World Sinfonia/Heart Of The Immigrants (1993)
Scenario (1993)
The Essence Of Al Di Meola (1994)
Orange And Blue (1994)
The Rite Of Strings (1995)
The Guitar Trio (1996) (w/McLaughlin and De Lucia)
Di Meola Plays Piazzolla (1996)
Tirami Su (1996)
The Infinite Desire (1998)
Winter Nights (1999)
The Grand Passion (2000)
Anthology (2000)
Flesh On Flesh (2002)
Revisited (2003)

One Of These Nights (2004) (DVD)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin US

Added: October 18th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.aldimeola.com
Hits: 1112
Language: english


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