Al di Meola's first so-called Christmas album is a relaxed, flowing, intensely musical affair that jazzers, world music buffs, and new agers will feel equally comfortable with. Mostly, he steers away from the often-cracked chestnuts, composing several nice tunes of his own ("Zima," the leadoff cut, is especially inviting), playing acoustic guitar and a battery of percussion instruments and keyboards in a graceful one-man band, thanks to multi-track tape. Other tracks feature duets between di Meola (with overdubbed additional instruments) and Roman Hrynkiv, who plays a Ukrainian zither-like instrument called the bandura.
Jazz guitarist Al DiMeola gives new meaning to the phrase world music by working with Ukrainian bandura player Roman Hrynkiv. Here DiMeola explores a special collection of instrumental seasonal works, underscoring them with layered percussion. A number of captivating originals and intricately arranged standards surface here, including "Carol of the Bells, "Ave Maria," and "The First Noel." DiMeola certainly titled the album right: these seasonal songs readily capture the penetrating chill and peacefulness of a star-laden winter sky. Recommended.Martin Keller, Amazon.com