Al Di Meola: Opus

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Al Di Meola
Opus

At this point in his career, Al Di Meola easily moves between his cranked jazz-rock mode or quieter Latin-world fusion. This latest explores the latter, with compositions that delve into South American, Spanish, and Italian moods. In contrast to his high-powered fusion, Di Meola mostly deploys acoustic nylon-string, but brings out electric for counter melodies and some solos.

“Milonga Noctiva” opens the disc with a gorgeous ballad, rife with classical-guitar arpeggios and sultry strings that evolve into a dramatic tango groove. “Broken Heart” reveals the electric and acoustic interplay that Al does so well, contrasting the sharp rhythms of acoustic with melodies and trem-bar flourishes played on a PRS. “Ava’s Dream Sequence Lullaby” is about as exquisite as it gets, with rapturous steel-string picking over orchestral pads.

Cue up “Notorious” to hear one of Al’s Latin-funk riffs – indeed, not many cats can lay down a heavy, complex groove like that. Later, he trades solos with himself, playing nylon-string in the left channel and overdriven electric on the right.

This is a beautiful record and strongly recommended. It’s heartening to hear a musician still growing and moving forward, even after 44 years on the road.


This article originally appeared in VG July 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.