Al DiMeola and a new World Sinfonia group brought their intriguing fusion of rhythmic and electronic flair to the Knitting Factory October 8th. Their strong Latin jazz and buoyant world melodies were blended extremely well with a heavier electronic jazz/rock feeling which brought standing ovations from the audience several times during both well-attended shows. Di Meola’s compositional control over his fusion band resulted in a satisfying mixture of pre-composed structures of varying complexity, raw improvisational energy and beautiful melodic appeal. Playing songs from both critically acclaimed Telarc recordings, THE GRAND PASSION and his most recent, FLESH ON FLESH, the handsome guitar virtuoso dazzled patrons with his skill and techniques for transforming the original melodies and strict rhythmic structure of Astor Piazzolla’s “Fugata” into a fresh and memorable theme by using heavily inflicted syncopation and unpredictable harmonies, meter and timbre. However, it was such original songs as “Zona Desparata” “Flesh on Flesh,” and “Saffire Soleil” that set the images of Di Meola’s blazing guitar brilliance in our memories. It was pure emotion satisfying, sensual, complex and joyful. As one of the world’s most accomplished and imaginative “sonic engineers” in contemporary fusion, Al Di Meola made use of numerous types of guitars. Their gleaming beauty only added to the visual excitement as he absorbed and returned the intense but loving energy the audience was giving off. Mario Parmisano’s acoustic piano synths produced a bright, electronic timbre that sounded great in this particular room and Alejandro Herrera, the newest member of the group, held down the rhythm logic on electric bass. From the changes that would stop on a dime to the lyrical beauty of Alejandro Santos’ flute floating in the air, to Ernie Adams’ excellent drumming and Gumbi Ortiz's percussive genius, each member was so purely complimentary that each of their musical sentences were punctuated at just the right harmonious moments and completed with the stylistic plurality that only Al Di Meola can deliver. Among the many stellar moments during the concert was Di Meola’s rhythmic duet with percussionist Gumbi Ortiz. Al Di Meola developed this high-energy improvisation with the looseness and rhythmic dancing quality of electronic jazz while Ortiz added fiery Latin conga beats and thunder from his seat box. Together, they produced some great adventurous heat that brought on a robust round of applause.
Al Di Meola is more varied in artistic scope and musical technique than the Al Di Meola who revolutionized and was the epitome of electronic rock/jazz fusion of previous decades. He is more soulful, his arrangements more tasteful and orchestral but at the same time, still appealing when he injects a heavy dose of rock into the world mix. He continues to erode the distinction between the genres with this excellent fusion ensemble. You'd be highly disappointed if you missed his exciting performance. Stay in touch with Al Di Meola and World Sinfonia at www.telarc.com