以高速、精準的结他造诣见称的World Fusion结他手Al di Meola，踏入二十一世纪的首两张作品《The Grande Passion：World Sinfonia》、《Flesh on Flesh》依然令人神往，到了07年的《Music of Astor Piazzolla》，稍为普通了点，但仍可见他的结他气焰和气势十分猛。今次这张2011新作在意念上仍是近年一贯的World Fusion格局，但就更顾及Contemporary Jazz的大格局组织和经营，再酌量加入Jazz Rock、Flamenco、Tango及North African音乐，整体上更见一气呵成，而且邀来合作的都是爵士界的一等一高手，如Charlie Haden、Gonzalo Rubalcaba、Peter Erskine……与他「撞」出相当具爆炸力的化合作用。精彩！我觉得比《Music of Astor Piazzolla》更杰出。
Published: April 3, 2011
Al Di Meola: Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody
Those who follow the guitar world are likely to be familiar with Al Di Meola, either from his stint with Return to Forever or his own,four-decade solo career. As wide-reaching as the possibilities of his fretboard, from electric jazz fusion to acoustic world music, Di Meola has built a reputation as a fantastic guitarist. Unencumbered by any particular genre, he remains true to form on Pursuit of a Radical Rhapsody; his exciting Pat Metheny-meets-Baden Powell-meets-Joe Satriani-meets-Andres Segovia style in full display in this collection of mostly original songs.
Like the rest of his body of work, Pursuit is a showcase of Di Meola's technical mastery. His creative exploration of different rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic traditions—in addition to interesting instrumentation including accordion—demonstrate how adept of a player he is, his titular pursuit apparent from the very first note.
In addition to Di Meola's signature style as a shredding jazz man exploring the reaches of fusion and world music, he gives nod to the popular music tradition with pretty interpretations of The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields" and the classic standard, "Over the Rainbow," both featuring bass great, Charlie Haden.
There is something majestic about this record, a masterpiece of careful craftsmanship. Rather than being an intimate record, however, it's more opera house than jazz bar. It's experimental in its instrumentation and fusion of styles; a standard record from a guitar great.
Fans of Di Meola's past records will find plenty to like in Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody; those who've been unconvinced, however, won't likely be swayed in their opinions.
Track Listing: Siberiana; Paramour's Lullaby; Mawazine Pt. 1; Michelangelo's 7th Child; Gumbiero; Brave New World; Full Frontal Contrapuntal; That Way Before; Fireflies; Destination Gonzalo; Bona; Radical Rhapsody; Strawberry Fields; Mawazine Pt. 2; Over the Rainbow.
Personnel: Al Di Meola: acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, keyboards; Fausto Beccalossi: accordion; Kevin Seddiki: second guitar parts; Gumbi Ortiz: percussion; Peter Kaszas: drums, percussion; Victor Miranda: acoustic upright baby bass; Charlie Haden: acoustic bass (13,15); Peter Erskine: drums (4, 10, 12); Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano (5, 10, 12, 13); Barry Miles: string arrangements and additional keyboards; Mino Cinelu: percussion (3, 4, 13, 14); Gabor Csonka: violin (4, 11, 15); Viktor Uhrin: violin (4, 11, 15); Gergely Kuklis: violin (4); Gyula Benk: violin (4, 11, 15); Andras Sturcz: violin (4, 11, 15).
Record Label: Telarc Records | Style: Beyond Jazz
Audio CD (March 15, 2011)
Original Release Date: 2011
Number of Discs: 1
Following the much ballyhooed Return To Forever reunion tour of 2008, guitarist Al Di Meola began refocusing his energies on his World Sinfonia band. Live in Seattle and Elsewhere documented his tightly-knit chemistry in concert on a 2009 tour with his acoustic ensemble of accordionist Fausto Beccalossi, second guitarist Kevin Seddiki, bassist Victor Miranda, drummer Peter Kazsas and Di Meola's longtime collaborator Gumbi Ortiz on cajon and assorted hand percussion. Di Meola's rhythmically-charged flamenco and tango inspired originals revealed his knack for advanced harmonies along with his embracing of simple, beautiful, alluring melodies. And although he may be a romantic at heart, he showed that he is still very much capable of flashing those legendary chops that graced his `70s classics like Elegant Gypsy and Casino.
On Di Meola's latest outing, Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody, the guitar virtuoso and world music pioneer deals in more evocative and compelling sounds with his World Sinfonia ensemble, delivering hauntingly beautiful and deeply moving music from track to track. The collection kicks off with the entrancing, suite-like "Siberiana," which opens with some tender call-and-response between Beccalossi's accordion and Di Meola's nylon string acoustic guitar before building to a turbulent section with searing electric guitar lines on top. On the affecting "Paramour's Lullaby," Di Meola takes a more deliberate approach on electric guitar, spinning warm, lyrical lines over the beautiful harmonies before engaging in spirited call-and-response with Beccalossi near the end of the piece. The rhythmically charged "Mawazine" (featuring percussionist Mino Cinelu) is broken up into two parts on the album and showcases some typically tasty electric guitar work by the leader.
The lushly cinematic "Michelangelo's 7th Child" (featuring Hungary's Sturcz String Quartet) has Di Meola utilizing subtle MIDI textures and colorations on his acoustic guitar while also showcasing some virtuosic runs. "Gumbiero" is a stirring Latin number underscored by Ortiz's churning conga work. Sparks fly between Di Meola's signature fretboard bravado on both acoustic and electric, Beccalossi's facile accordion playing and Gonzalo Rubalcaba's dazzling piano work on this spirited offering. "Full Frontal Contrapuntal" features some chops-busting unisons and intricate exchanges between Al's MIDI-tinged acoustic guitar and Beccalossi's accordion. The surging "This Way Before" and the evocative, flamenco inspired "Fireflies" both feature Di Meola alternating between acoustic and distortion-laced electric guitar licks. The stirring Latin flavored "Destination Gonzalo" and "Radical Rhapsody" both feature virtuosic contributions from pianist Rubalcaba and former Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine. The poignant "Bona" is a tender offering with the Sturcz String Quartet that features some of Di Meola's most lyrical playing on the record. The leader also turns in soothing interpretations of two classic pop tunes, the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," both of which feature the great jazz bassist Charlie Haden.
Al Di Meola：意大利裔吉他手，在Berklee音乐学院就读时因爵士钢琴家Chick Corea的赏识，而加入其融合爵士乐团Return To Forever，成为70年代融合爵士乐的重要角色之一。而当Return To Forever于80年解散之后，他逐渐回归使用木吉他演奏，并与融合爵士吉他大师John McLaughlin、佛朗明哥吉他好手Paco De Lucia等人一同巡回演出。三人所录制的Friday Night in San Francisco(1982)与Passion, Grace & Fire(1983)更成为爵士吉他的重要名盘。自85年起他组成了自己的乐团The Al Di Meola Project，并不断地在各种音乐风格以及电吉他、木吉他之间来回游走，试图打破一般乐迷对他的"速弹吉他手"的印象。他也吸收许多拉丁美州及其他世界音乐的元素，融入他的演奏当中: 如1985年的Cielo E Terra，便带有浓厚的神秘意味。其重要作品还包括了World Sinfonia(1991)、Heart of the Immigrants(1993)及Orange and Blue(1994)等。又如1996年的Plays Piazzolla，则是他对阿根廷探戈音乐大师Astor Piazzolla的致敬专辑。在2000年的新专辑The Grande Passion中，他更与多伦多管弦乐团合作，展现他深厚的古典基础与作曲功力。
By Owen McGee
When I saw them in concert a couple of years ago, DiMeola's current band struck me as being between several stools. Accordion + loud electric guitar? Heavy drums + no bass or keyboards? It was a strange sound & combination, and I felt that their new material could do with some added band members & orchestration to bring the tunes to life. "Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody" does this...and more.
I would call this an uncompromising, inventive & artistic record, coming after a five-year hiatus in DiMeola studio recordings. I will try and explain.
In common with Pat Metheny, DiMeola has done many fine records where, in addition to great instrumental skills, the music can sound like a pop or rock record in terms of its production. Call it 'mainstream' or 'commercial' if you wish. That has a plus & a downside, the plus being its great musicality (to a higher level than pop/rock guys can offer), the downside being the music or melodies can sound a little too familiar or 'eager to please', even if they avoid the blandness of so-called 'smooth jazz'. Some of DiMeola's best records in the last 20 years have been 'World Sinfonia' albums, as is this one, but those records, while not 'mainstream', also had an easily recognisable, or 'feel at home', sound, due to their heavy reliance on Astor Piazzolla material. By contrast, there are no Piazzolla tunes on this album. Instead, along with two cover versions, there are 13 original compositions all of which throw a 'curve ball' at the listener in the sense that they feature compositional turns, improvisations & orchestrations that will not remind you of anything else. I say this as someone who has heard all DiMeola's albums and much else besides. If this record reminds me in any way of any other recording, it might be Chick Corea's "Ultimate Adventure", if only due to its very free-spirited, imaginative & open-ended approach, but I think "Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody" actually far outshines that album in terms of compositional depth and inventive, while never repetitive, musical development. There is not a single lazy moment on this album in terms of content or style.
The album is recorded, mixed & produced brilliantly. There is an equal amount of electric & acoustic guitar playing on this album, and it is strictly a pure nylon-string acoustic & clean-toned electric sound (which pleases me, for one, as DiMeola sometimes relies a little too heavily for my tastes on MIDI effects). I think this album represents the ever-growing maturity & development of DiMeola as a musician in more ways than one. For one thing, I would consider this as the most jazzy of DiMeola's solo albums to date and yet it is also characterised by longstanding (if not very jazzy) DiMeola styles, such as sensitive nylon string playing (evident since the mid-80s) and highly rhythmic, not exactly 'swinging', twists & turns involving heavy snare drums & solid-body electric guitar (evident since the mid-70s). Not until track 10 does a tune in 4-4 appear! The combination of all three factors actually works, however, to such a degree that this is constantly a musically stimulating, challenging and at the same time warm & richly harmonic sounding record. The latter point is worth stressing, because with all these contrasting elements the music could have ended up cacophonic, which it is not, or so tight that jazz improvisations are missing, which they are not.
To conclude, I would say this is DiMeola's best album since 'The Grande Passion' while in terms of its melodic content it actually outshines that album in at least one sense, namely its non-reliance on the use of a single 'traditional' & 'familiar' musical phrase, from start to finish. If the key to artistic brilliance is to create something that will never remind you of anything or anybody else, maybe one could say that DiMeola has truly realised his artistic potential with this album, which provides very fresh listening.
Accordion – Fausto Beccalossi
Acoustic Bass – Charlie Haden (tracks: 13, 15)
Acoustic Bass [Acoustic Upright Baby Bass] – Victor Miranda
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Keyboards – Al Di Meola
Arranged By [String Arrangements], Keyboards [Additional] – Barry Miles
Drums – Peter Erskine (tracks: 4, 10, 12)
Drums, Percussion – Peter Kaszas
Guitar [2nd Guitar Parts] – Kevin Seddiki
Percussion – Gumbi Ortiz, Mino Cinelu (tracks: 3, 4, 13, 14)
Piano – Gonzalo Rubalcaba (tracks: 5, 12, 13)
01. Siberiana 8:20
02. Paramour's Lullaby 7:47
03. Mawazine Pt 1 2:09
04. Michelangelo's 7th Child 7:33
05. Gumbiero 6:19
06. Brave New World 1:54
07. Full Frontal Contrapuntal 4:53
08. That Way Before 3:06
09. Fireflies 4:02
10. Destination Gonzalo 5:17
11. Bona 6:02
12. Radical Rhapsody 5:03
13. Strawberry Fields 4:11
14. Mawazine Pt 2 2:55
15. Over The Rainbow 3:06