Al di Meola continues to broaden his musical horizons with Flesh on Flesh, his fourth release for the Telarc recording label. The great guitarist is joined by two members of his World Sinfonia acoustic group – Gumbi Ortiz on percussion and Mario Parmisano on keyboards – in addition to such stellar musicians as Gonzalo Rubalcaba, flutist Alejandro Santos, and bassist Anthony Jackson, who recorded with di Meola on his best-selling Elegant Gypsy album in the mid-'80s.
Chick Corea was involved in a wide variety of projects during the early 1980s, some acoustic, others electric, and everything from solos and duets to orchestral projects. Touchstone really displays quite a bit of diversity with features for flamenco guitarist Paco DeLucia, a one-song ("Compadres") reunion of Return to Forever (with guitarist Al DiMeola, bassist Stanley Clarke, and drummer Lenny White), a spot for alto-great Lee Konitz ("Duende"), and a conventional sextet outing on "Dance of Chance." A bit uneven but with its interesting moments, Touchstone is worth checking out.
A high point of the Moroccan music festival is without doubt the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco. Al Di Meola’s fantastic appearance in 2009 also represented a summit of different cultures and religions – Al Di Meola (guitar), Peo Alfonsi (2nd guitar), Fausto Beccalossi (accordion), Gumbi Ortiz (percussion), Victor Miranda (bass), Peter Kaszas (drums), and with special guests from Morocco, Said Chraibi (oud), Abdellah Meri (violin) and Tarik Ben Ali (percussion). On his third trip to Morocco, the public gave this exceptional guitarist a rousing reception and showed ist openness towards Western music – and Al Di Meola wowed the audience with a special repertoire.
If you're an air guitarist, Al di Meola has likely been your man since his days as an unknown 21-year-old addition to Chick Corea's Return to Forever in the mid-'70s. Over the years since leaving RTF, he has been afforded the opportunity to record regularly, and this CD represents a good overview of his discography, primarily for the Columbia family of labels. His early dates Land of the Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy, and Casino are well represented, in addition to his collaborations with Jan Hammer on Tour de Force: Live. His middle-period efforts are not all that vital, as repeat ideas and predictable flash lost their original value even to the staunchest fans, therefore making this collection less than essential.
Two years after they recorded Friday Night in San Francisco, John McLaughlin, Al di Meola and Paco de Lucía reunited for another set of acoustic guitar trios, Passion, Grace and Fire, If this can be considered a guitar "battle" (some of the playing is ferocious and these speed demons do not let up too often), then the result is a three-way tie…