Al Di Meola (born Al Laurence Dimeola, July 22, 1954 in Jersey City, New Jersey) is an acclaimed American jazz fusion and Latin jazz guitarist, composer, and record producer of Italian origin (from Cerreto Sannita). With a musical career that has spanned more than three decades, he has become respected as one of the most influential guitarists in jazz to date. Albums such as Friday Night in San Francisco have earned him both artistic and commercial success with a solid fan base throughout the world.
In 1971 Di Meola enrolled in Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1974 he joined Chick Corea's band, Return to Forever, and played with the band until a major lineup shift in 1976. That year also saw the release of the masterpiece album, Romantic Warrior with Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, and Lenny White.
Di Meola went on to explore a variety of styles, but is most noted for his Latin-influenced jazz fusion works. He is a four-time winner as Best Jazz Guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine's Reader Poll.
Guitar historian Robert Lynch states: "In the history of the electric guitar, no one figure has done more to advance the instrument in a purely technical manner than Mr. Di Meola. His total command of the various styles and scales is simply mind-boggling. I feel privileged to have been able to study his work all these years."
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).
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 was sold more than two million times worldwide. In 1980, he also toured with fellow Latin rocker Carlos Santana.
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 guitars and synthesizers on albums such as Soaring Through a Dream. By the 1990s, Di Meola recorded albums closer to World music and modern Latin styles than jazz.
He has continued to tour, playing in smaller venues like The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, and House of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada. Recent concerts have included a sampling of his newer material (an engaging mix of acoustic, "distorted acoustic music", and guitar/synthesizer with a looser format than the songs on the early solo albums) along with a selection of electric guitar numbers from the early albums. Di Meola often closes out shows with an energetic rendition of one of his most challenging pieces, "Race with Devil on Spanish Highway", from the Elegant Gypsy album. Even in technical showcases like this, he combines blindingly fast scalar runs with subtle, dazzling rhythms, and melodic phrases. Because of his early recordings, Di Meola became arguably the most important pioneer of shred guitar, influencing guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen (with whom he appeared on keyboardist Derek Sherinian's solo album Black Utopia in 2003), Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi with his speed runs as a child and Dream Theater's John Petrucci. However, in most cases after the early 1980s, Di Meola has largely distanced himself from this approach. 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; the acoustic guitar does not aggravate his condition.
- Land of the Midnight Sun (1976)
- Elegant Gypsy (1977)
- Casino (1978)
- Splendido Hotel (1980)
- Electric Rendezvous (1982)
- Scenario (1983)
- Cielo e Terra (1985)
- Soaring Through a Dream (1985)
- Tirami Su (1987)
- World Sinfonia (1990) with Dino Saluzzi
- Kiss My Axe (1991)
- World Sinfonia II – Heart of the Immigrants (1993) with Dino Saluzzi
- Orange and Blue (1994)
- Di Meola Plays Piazzolla (1996) with Dino Saluzzi
- The Infinite Desire (1998)
- Winter Nights (1999)
- World Sinfonía III - The Grande Passion (2000) with Toronto Symphony Orchestra
- Flesh on Flesh (2002)
- Consequence of Chaos (2006)
- Vocal Rendezvous (2006)
- Diabolic Inventions And Seduction For Solo Guitar (2007)
- Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody (2011)
- All Your Life: Tribute to The Beatles recorded at the Abbey Road Studios, London (2013)
- Tour De Force – Live (1982)
- Live in London (2007)
- Melodia Live in Milano (2008)
- World Sinfonia :Live From Seattle And Else Where (2009)
- Live at the North Sea Jazz Festival (2012)
With Return to ForeverEdit
- Where Have I Known You Before (1974, Polydor)
- No Mystery (1975, Polydor)
- Romantic Warrior (1976, Columbia)
- Returns (2009, Eagle (Fontana))
With the Guitar TrioEdit
- Friday Night in San Francisco (1980) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía
- Passion, Grace and Fire (1983) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía
- The Guitar Trio (1996) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía
With Clarke and PontyEdit
- Venusian Summer (1975) with Lenny White and Larry Coryell
- Go Live From Paris (1976) with Go
- Go (1976) with Go
- Go Too (1977) with Go
- Hearts and Bones (1984) with Paul Simon
- The Way In (1988) with Jeff Richman
- Latin (1988) with George Dalaras
- Touchstone (1990) with Chick Corea
- Jazzpana (1993) with Vince Mendoza and Arif Mardin
- David Broza (1995) with David Broza
- Dance of Fire (1995) with Aziza Mustafa Zadeh
- The Promise (1996) with John McLaughlin
- Pavarotti & Friends For War Child (1996)
- People In Room No 8 (1997) with Leslie Mándoki
- The New Tango Project (1997)
- Crossing The Bridge (1999) with Eileen Ivers
- Inspiration – Colors & Reflections (2000) Aziza Mustafa Zadeh
- Nylon & Steel (2001) with Manuel Barrueco
- The Running Roads (2001) with George Dalaras
- Camino Latino (2002) with Liona Boyd
- Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (2002) with No Mercy
- Soulmates (2002) with Leslie Mándoki
- Black Utopia (2003) with Derek Sherinian
- Deja Vu (2003) with Leonid Agutin
- Cosmopolitan Life (2005) with Leonid Agutin
- Midsummer Night In Sardinia (2005) with Andrea Parodi
- Mária (Égi szerelem) (2007) with Miklos Malek and Eszter Horgas
- The NYC Session: Beautiful Love (2007) with Eddie Gomez, Billy Drummond and Yutaka Kobayashi
- Ő és Carmen (He and Carmen) (2008) with Eszter Horgas
- Rockin in the Free World (2012) with G3 - Joe Satriani, Steve Vai & Steve Morse
- Live at Montreux 1986, 1989, 1993 (2004)
- Super Guitar Trio & Friends in Concert /1990 (2005) with Larry Coryell and Bireli Lagrene
- Al Di Meola (2005) Re-release of VHS
- One of These Nights (2005)
- Di Meola/Clarke/Ponty – Live at Montreux 1994 (2005) with Stanley Clarke and Jean-Luc Ponty
- Super Guitar Trio: Live at Montreux 1989 (2007) with Larry Coryell and Bireli Lagrene
- Speak a Volcano: Return to Electric Guitar (2007)
- Cosmopolitan Live (2008) with Leonid Agutin
- Return to Forever: Returns – Live at Montreux (2009) with Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and Lenny White
- Carmen (2010)
- Live At North Sea Jazz Festival (2010)
- One Night In Montreal (2010)
- Morocco Fantasia (2011)
- ↑ Biography, 'Greg Prato, allmusic.com', December 21, 2010.
- ↑ Australian Tour March 2010, 'Toby Smith, musicfeeds.com.au', November 6, 2009.
- ↑ Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians, jazz.com. December 21, 2010.
- ↑ The State of Jazz: Meet 40 More Jersey Greats, The Star-Ledger, September 28, 2004.
- ↑ Al Di Meola bio at http://www.iTalkGuitar.com
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Al Di Meola New World Sinfonia, Nova Concerts International, June 15, 2011.
- ↑ "The Funky Gibbons, "John Petrucci page"". http://www.thefunkygibbons.net/John%20Petrucci.html.
- ↑ AL DiMEOLA Speaks About His Tinnitus – YouTube: American Tinnitus Association's Channel
- ↑ "In Conversation with Al Di Meola" – special feature on the Speak A Volcano DVD
- ↑ Speak A Volcano: Return to Electric Guitar (2007) DVD