Al Di Meola

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Al Di Meola
Al Di Meola 2006 1.jpg
Al Di Meola playing at the Granada Theater, Dallas, Texas, December 6, 2006
Background information
Birth name Al Laurence Dimeola
Born (1954-07-22) July 22, 1954 (age 62)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Jazz fusion, Latin jazz, 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


Al Di Meola (born Al Laurence Dimeola, July 22, 1954 in Jersey City, New Jersey) is an American jazz fusion and Latin jazz guitarist, composer, and record producer of Italian origin (from Cerreto Sannita). Albums such as Friday Night in San Francisco have earned him both artistic and commercial success[1] with a solid fan base throughout the world.[2]

Early Life[edit]

Di Meola grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey, and attended Bergenfield High School.[3] He has been a resident of Old Tappan, New Jersey.[4]

Having grown up with the rock music of Elvis Presley, The Ventures and The Beatles, Di Meola knew at an early age he wanted to play guitar. By his early teens, he was already an accomplished player. Proclaiming he was “trying to find myself, or find the kind of music that suited where I was going with the guitar”, he began listening to jazz players like Tal Farlow and Kenny Burrell. He was soon taken with Larry Coryell’s blending of jazz, blues and rock in the late 1960s, which would become known as fusion, and knew then that this was the type of music he wanted to pursue.[5]

Career[edit]

In 1972, Di Meola enrolled in Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. By his second semester at Berklee, Al had joined a fusion quartet headed by keyboardist Barry Miles. When a friend of Chick Corea’s sent him a tape from one of the quartet’s live performances, Corea hired the 19-year old Di Meola to replace the departing Bill Connors in his fusion supergroup Return to Forever.[5] In 1974, Di Meola made his Return to Forever debut on the album Where Have I Known You Before. Two more albums, No Mystery (1975) and Romantic Warrior (1976) were released during Di Meola's stay in the band. This lineup featured him playing with Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White until it was disbanded in 1976.

Di Meola went on to explore a variety of styles, but is most noted for his Latin-influenced jazz fusion works.

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

In addition to a prolific solo career, he has engaged in successful collaborations with bassist Stanley Clarke, keyboardist Jan Hammer, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and guitarists John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía. He also guested on "Allergies" from Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones album (1983). He also appeared with Frank Zappa. Live at the Ritz, NYNY in 1981.

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 very influential among rock and jazz guitarists alike. Di Meola continued to explore Latin music within the jazz fusion genre on albums like Casino and Splendido Hotel. He exhibited a more subtle touch on acoustic numbers like "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 ever recorded, and sold more than two million copies worldwide.[6] In 1980, he also toured with fellow Latin rocker Carlos Santana.

After being named Best Jazz Guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine's Readers Poll for a fifth consecutive year in 1981, Al was inducted into the magazine's Gallery of Greats.[5]

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.

Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Paco de Lucía performing in Barcelona, Spain in the 1980s

He has continued to tour, playing in smaller venues like The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, and House of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In various interviews, Di Meola has stated that his reason for stepping away from the electric guitar is due to hearing damage (manifested as tinnitus) from years of playing at excessive volumes;[7] the acoustic guitar does not aggravate his condition.

However, in 2006 he rediscovered his love of the electric guitar,[8] and the DVD of his concert at the Leverkusen Jazz Festival 2006 bears the subtitle Return to Electric Guitar.[9]

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biography, 'Greg Prato, allmusic.com', December 21, 2010.
  2. ^ Australian Tour March 2010, 'Toby Smith, musicfeeds.com.au', November 6, 2009.
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians, jazz.com. December 21, 2010.
  4. ^ Stewart, Zan. The State of Jazz: Meet 40 More Jersey Greats, The Star-Ledger, September 28, 2003. Accessed September 15, 2015. "Al DiMeola -- One of the most dynamic of contemporary guitarists, Jersey City native DiMeola lives in Old Tappan."
  5. ^ a b c "Al Di Meola Biography". allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved January 11, 2017. 
  6. ^ Al Di Meola New World Sinfonia, Nova Concerts International, June 15, 2011.
  7. ^ AL DiMEOLA Speaks About His Tinnitus – American Tinnitus Association's channel on YouTube
  8. ^ "In Conversation with Al Di Meola" – special feature on the Speak A Volcano DVD
  9. ^ Speak A Volcano: Return to Electric Guitar (2007) DVD

External links[edit]