earMUSIC [Release date 23.02.18]
Many will remember Al Di Meola from his three-album sojourn with jazz fusionists Return To Forever. After that time Di Meola pursued a solo career frequently incorporating world flavours and collaborating with other guitar icons.
His solo albums are always welcome, perhaps in drip-feed mode now compared to his late 1970s heyday. ‘Opus’ finds Di Meola in remarkably good form.
The opener ‘Wandering In The Dark’ is typical with his self-accompaniment and rich orchestrations.
Di Meola’s acoustic stylings are very much in the Spanish/European tradition although tracks like ‘Ceretto Sannita’ and ‘Escapado’ also reveal his familiar Latin leanings.
The music is technically driven, with a remarkable ear for intricate rhythms and exotic harmonies. If at times you’ll be thinking “where’s the tune?” you will still be enveloped in the guitar pizzaz that permeates all these tracks.
‘Broken Heart’ features electric lead and a nice propulsive acoustic ground. The long ‘Ava’s Dream Sequence Lullaby’ allows Di Meola to explore a sumptuous semi-classical piece inspired by his baby daughter. This reminded me a little of Jan Akkerman’s album ‘Aranjuez’ (1978) with its rich mix of orchestra and guitar.
‘Notorious’ and ‘Rebels’ are the closest we get to jazz rock with the busy acoustic rhythms topped by Di Meola’s fluid electric guitar.
‘Opus’ represents something of a quiet renaissance for one of our jazz fusion guitar heroes. ****
Review by David Randall
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