Al Di Meola

Al Laurence Di Meola (born July 22, 1954) is an American jazz, jazz fusion, and world music guitarist. Albums such as Friday Night in San Francisco have earned him both critical and commercial success[1] with fans throughout the world.[2]

Al Di Meola
Al Di Meola 2006 1
Al Di Meola at the Granada Theater, Dallas, Texas, December 6, 2006
Background information
Birth name Al Laurence Di Meola
Born July 22, 1954 (age 63)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, world music, world fusion
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1974–present
Labels Columbia, Telarc, Tomato, Milestone, Songsurfer, Valiana, Inakustik
Associated acts Return to Forever, Paco de Lucía, John McLaughlin
Website www.aldimeola.com

Early life

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, into an Italian family with roots in Cerreto Sannita, a small town northeast of Naples, Di Meola grew up in Bergenfield, where he attended Bergenfield High School.[3][4] He has been a resident of Old Tappan, New Jersey.[5]

When he was eight years old, he was inspired by Elvis Presley and the Ventures to start playing guitar. His teacher directed him toward jazz standards. He cites as influences jazz guitarists George Benson and Kenny Burrell and bluegrass and country guitarists Clarence White and Doc Watson.[6]

Career

Return to Forever 1974
Di Meola with Return to Forever at Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, New York, 1974

He attended Berklee College of Music in the early 1970s. At nineteen, he was hired by Chick Corea to replace Bill Connors in the pioneering jazz fusion band Return to Forever with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. He recorded three albums with Return to Forever, helping the quartet earn its greatest commercial success as all three albums cracked the Top 40 on the U.S. Billboard pop albums chart.[1] He could play so fast that he was sometimes criticized for playing too many notes.[7]

As Return to Forever was disbanding around 1976, Di Meola began recording solo albums on which he demonstrated mastery of jazz fusion, flamenco, and Mediterranean music.[7] His album Elegant Gypsy (1977) received a gold certification. In 1980 he recorded the acoustic live album Friday Night in San Francisco with Paco de Lucía and John McLaughlin.[1]

Tres GUITARRISTAS (as%C3%AD, con may%C3%BAsculas)
Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Paco de Lucía performing in Barcelona, Spain in the 1980s

In the beginning of his career, as evidenced on his first solo album Land of the Midnight Sun (1976), Di Meola was noted for his technical mastery and extremely fast, complex guitar solos and compositions. But even on his early albums, he had begun to explore Mediterranean cultures and acoustic genres like flamenco. Good examples are "Mediterranean Sundance" and "Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil" from the Elegant Gypsy album (1977).

His early albums were influential among rock and jazz guitarists. Di Meola continued to explore Latin music within jazz fusion on Casino and Splendido Hotel. He exhibited a more subtle touch on acoustic numbers "Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars" from the Casino album and on the best-selling live album with McLaughlin and de Lucia, Friday Night in San Francisco. The latter album became one of the most popular live albums for acoustic guitar, selling more than two million copies worldwide.[8]

Al Di Meola - Leverkusener Jazztage 2016-AL1913
Di Meola at Leverkusener Jazztage (Forum/Leverkusen/Germany) on November 7, 2016

With Scenario, he explored the electronic side of jazz in a collaboration with Jan Hammer (later of Miami Vice theme fame). Beginning with this change, he further expanded his horizons with the acoustic album Cielo e Terra. He began to incorporate the Synclavier guitar synthesizer on mid-1980s albums such as Soaring Through a Dream. By the 1990s, Di Meola recorded albums closer to world music and modern Latin styles than jazz.

However, in 2006 he rediscovered his love of the electric guitar,[9] and the DVD of his concert at the Leverkusen Jazz Festival 2006 bears the subtitle Return to Electric Guitar.[10]

References

  1. ^ a b c Prato, Greg. "Al Di Meola". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  2. ^ Smith, Toby (November 6, 2009). "Al Di Meola, World Sinfonia Australian Tour - March 2010". Music Feeds. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians, jazz.com, backed up by the Internet Archive as of January 26, 2009; accessed September 11, 2017. "Di Meola was born to an Italian family with roots in jazz fusion on July 22nd, 1954 in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan. He grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey, located in Bergen County.... When Di Meola completed his studies at Bergenfield High School, he enrolled in classes at the Berklee College of Music in Boston."
  4. ^ Al Di Meola profile, Concord Bicycle Music; accessed September 11, 2017.
    "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. ... 'In the ‘60s, if you didn't play like Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page, you weren’t accepted,' he recalls of his high school years in Bergenfield, New Jersey."
  5. ^ Stewart, Zan. The State of Jazz: Meet 40 More Jersey Greats, The Star-Ledger, September 28, 2003, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 29, 2007. Accessed September 11, 2017. "Al DiMeola -- One of the most dynamic of contemporary guitarists, Jersey City native DiMeola lives in Old Tappan."
  6. ^ "Al Di Meola: "It's Bullshit When Guitarists Say, "One Note Says So Much More Than 100"". Guitar World. July 22, 2016. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  8. ^ Scheel, Christian. "Al Di Meola World Sinfonia". Nova Concerts. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  9. ^ "In Conversation with Al Di Meola" – special feature on the Speak a Volcano DVD
  10. ^ Speak a Volcano: Return to Electric Guitar (2007) DVD

External links

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