Album Remarks & Appraisals:
One of the trailblazers of the jazz fusion genre, Al Di Meola has long been praised for his technical prowess on the guitar, as well as his versatility. Still very much active in his career, Di Meola has expanded his repertoire into World and Latin music, where he continues to shine, whether his guitar is plugged in or acoustic.
Al Di Meola's story begins in the early 1970's, while he was a student at Boston's Berklee College of Music, and was performing around town in a local fusion quartet. It was at this point that he caught the ear of Chick Corea, and in 1974 the 19-year old received a fateful call from the legendary jazz pianist and composer, who was hiring a replacement guitarist for his band, Return to Forever. Following a weekend of rehearsals in New York, 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 albums - including the GRAMMY Award winning No Mystery and Romantic Warrior - RTF disbanded in 1976, effectively launching Al's solo career. His first effort, Land of the Midnight Sun, a blazing showcase of the guitarist's frenetic, slashing style, came out later that year.
Over the course of six more albums with Columbia Records, 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.
The Al Di Meola Collection focuses on the past two decades of Di Meloa's career, in which he has continued to conquer new musical horizons. The Collection kicks off with "Race with Devil on Turkish Highway," a guitar duel like none other with Steve Vai, off Di Meola's 1998 Telarc debut, The Infinite Desire. The album, featuring some of the most extensive and effective uses of midi technology, has sold more than 100,000 copies to date and logged over 3 months on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Chart. 2002's The Grande Passion features Di Meola's acoustic group, World Sinfonia, and boasts diverse sounds taken from every corner of the world, such as the sultry, Latin-tinged "Libertango." Chick Corea cover "Señor Mouse" comes by way of 2002's critically acclaimed Flesh on Flesh, an album which put the spotlight back on Di Meola's outstanding electric guitar work. Several tracks are featured from 2006's Consequence of Chaos; a record of original compositions with guest appearances by Corea, among others. The Collection concludes with a dreamy cover of the classic song "Over the Rainbow," a selection from 2011's Pursuit of a Radical Rhapsody.