Al Di Meola: Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody
Waves gently splashing on the shore are soon joined by the irresistible beckoning of an electric guitar. The privacy of the headphones and the darkness of the room complement the sounds that are carrying me away to an unconscious state where subliminal suggestions speak to my subconscious. Several deep breaths and I’m asleep. When I awake, I can read faster – it’s amazing. It was back in 1989 and it was my first encounter with the genre of “world music.” To hell with reading faster, Al Di Meola’s newest CD, Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody hits the streets on March 15 and is definitely worth staying awake to hear every note.
Di Meola’s latest album includes thirteen new compositions and covers of two classic pop tunes, “Strawberry Fields” and “Over the Rainbow”. The world famous guitarist (frequently lauded as a master of both acoustic and electric instruments) is accompanied for this project by the World Sinfonia Band: accordionist Fausto Beccalossi, guitarist Kevin Seddiki, drummer Peter Kazsas, percussionist Gumbi Ortiz, and on bass, Victor Miranda. Cuban piano legend Gonzalo Rubalcaba sits in on five tracks. Also making guest appearances are Mino Cinelu of Hungary’s Sturcz String Quartet and former Weather Report drummer, Peter Erskine.
The abundance of talent here doesn’t detract from the star – far from it. They support the guitar virtuoso in this tour-de-force through a variety of genres including jazz, world music, and of course pop. Di Meola’s compositions display his mastery of complex rhythms, provocative melodies and sophisticated harmony.
Aside from the two pop covers, this reviewer found favor with the first two tracks. Leading off the CD is “Siberiana”, a lively, fast-paced piece that could easily become a hit – if released as a single. Track two, “Paramour’s Lullaby” is one of those melodies that is instantly appealing and familiar. Listeners will feel like they’ve “heard that tune before”. But they haven’t, this is an original.
Passive listeners will enjoy the relaxed, calm moods they experience. Active listeners will revel in the challenge offered by a master of his craft exploiting his instrument to the fullest. Described as having been “years in the making,” Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody will satisfy Di Meola’s fan base and impress newcomers to the fold. Don’t miss this one, join the pursuit!