Born: July 22, 1954 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Al Di Meola holds the most prestigious guitar awards (of any guitarist in the world) from the highest rated guitar poll in the world, Guitar Player Magazine. He has been known throughout the world for the past two and a half decades as one of the most prominent virtuosos in the contemporary instrumental jazz field.
Al Di Meola's highly celebrated career has spanned a wide range of emotions into a unique style embodying the artists world inspired influences. From the velocity and heat of his early solo efforts to the challenge and triumph of the Di Meola / McLaughlin / De Lucia (Guitar Trio), from the Brazilian explorations of Cielo e Terra and Soaring Through A Dream to the global romanticism and Tango inflection of Al's acoustic group World Synfonia (self titled debut) and the 2nd World Sinfonia recording Heart of the Immigrants. From the beginning of his solo career, where records like Land of the Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy and Casino, were amongst the highest selling records of any instrumental artist at that time. Al Di Meola continues to make, with respect, startling achievements in music pioneering while the decline of U.S. radio continues to elude most interesting contemporary music.
Al Di Meola, again and again, reveals himself as a seasoned gifted contemporary composer and a player of deepening grace and evocative lyricism. He has been continually sited by many of the top prominent Music critics around the world for his virtuosic guitar work and compositions. Al's intrigue with complex rhythmic syncopation combined with provocative lyrical melodies always incorporating, sophisticated harmony at the root of these serious but heart felt works is central and foremost.
His awesome technique and musical depth can be traced back and is world renown with his debut with Chick Corea and Return to Forever in 1974. 1980 marked the triumph of the Super Guitar Trio with Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin. The record Friday Night in San Francisco became a landmark recording resulting in wide acclaim, and surpassing two million records in sales. They toured from 1980 through 1983 and reunited for a 3rd CD Guitar Trio in 1996 follow by a world tour. In early 1996, Al Di Meola formed a new trio with the likes of Jean Luc Ponty, and Stanley Clarke (The Rite of Strings).
Di Meola has assembled what he describes as his best group by fit in my career. The name of this new group is the Al Di Meola World Sinfonia 2000, featuring musicians from Argentina, Cuba and Israel.
He has recorded over 21 records (CD's) of his own including his new solo acoustic guitar record Winter Nights. A very intimate recording of Di Meola himself alternating between two gorgeous vintage acoustic guitars and a bandura (a 48-string harp like instrument) played by a musician from Ukraine named Roman Hrynkiv. The music is centered on a holiday winter theme with songs ranging from four originals, four Christmas related pieces and two well- known pop pieces, one being Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel and Scarborough Fair by Paul Simon. Di Meola's choice of music on this record combined with his originals has a particular concurrent thematic mood.Al believes this record is audibly the best sounding record he's ever recorded. In addition to Roman Hrynkiv on bandura, Hernan Romero, Al's friend and musical partner is assisting with production and acoustic rhythm guitar on two tracks.
Among some of the names in his illustrious career, with whom Al has recorded or played with include the likes of Chick Corea, Luciano Pavarotti, Paco De Lucia, Paul Simon, Phil Collins, Santana, John McLaughlin, Larrv Coryell, Steve Winwood, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Jaco Pastorius, Les Paul, jean Luc Ponty, Steve Vai, Frank Zappa, Milton Naciemento, Egberto Gismonti, Jimmy Page, Tony Williams, Stanley Clarke, Stevie Wonder, Irakere and many more.
As World Sinfonia and Heart of the Immigrant's evocative melodies and rhythmic diversity were greatly influenced by the late Argentinian tango master Astor Piazzolla. On Kiss My Axe, Infinite Desire and Orange and Blue, he shows a broader cultural and musical scope. However, the friendship between Astor Piazzolla and Al Di Meola before his death greatly moved the guitarist into deepening his considerable ties to the music of Argentina and the classical world. Piazzolla had a profound effect on my development as a musician and as a person. We became close friends often communicating by mail, which later during the coarse of this my admiration and desire to learn more about this great man intensified. Chick Corea is also another major influence in my life; he has always been a wonderful supporter, major musical inspiration and a friend. Playing with Chick was the first significant step in my development as a player.
Born in an Italian family, then, while growing up in New Jersey, young Al Di Meola divided his time between guitar lessons and hanging out at the local salsa clubs. Influenced greatly by jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, Di Meola enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where his marathon practice sessions are still the stuff of legends (Al continues to be the technical master by whom other guitarists are measured). We had three guys in one space; one in one room, one in the bathroom and I got the closet. After a brief stint with keyboardist Barry Miles, Di Meola, at 19 was tapped by Chick Corea in 1974 for Return to Forever. His star quickly ascended.
Twenty-One recordings, countless awards, (including three gold albums) and six million albums later, Al Di Meola is still challenging himself and his music. His current productions are: Infinite Desire,( 1998), Winter Nights,( 1999), “World Sinfonia,” (2000), “The Grand Passion, (2000) and Flesh on Flesh his May 2003 release.
Released in September 2006, his fifth Telarc release, “Consequence of Chaos,” offers a contemporary set of 15 original compositions and guest appearances by pianist Chick Corea, drummer Steve Gadd, keyboardist Barry Miles, and bassist John Patitucci, among others.
For summer of 2008 Al is reuniting with the original members of Return To Forever, keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke, and drummer Lenny White in a highly anticipated tour.