The Holy Trinity of great fusion guitarists must assuredly be John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny and Al DiMeola. This two-disc “Anthology” collects the best tracks from seven of DiMeola’s Columbia albums between 1975 and 1983, along with four previously unreleased live tracks. Since DiMeola turned out so much uniformly excellent music for the label in that period, this collection is a fine starting point for anyone interested in pursuing the guitarist’s work. Clearly represented are his myriad Latin influences, speed-picking prowess (try disc 1, track 2 on for size) and classical leanings. DiMeola’s tenure in Chick Corea’s fusion incubator Return To Forever impacted his career in many ways, and three of Corea’s compositions receive masterful interpretations here in return.
Most of the tracks are by DiMeola’s classic quintet with bass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve Gadd. Among the other performers are bassist Jaco Pastorius, drummers Alphonse Mouzon and Lenny White, keyboardist Jan Hammer and even Genesis drummer Phil Collins on one track. It speaks volumes about DiMeola’s foresight as a performer that few of these tracks, even the earliest, sound dated in this digitally remastered package.
Many of these tracks are textbook examples of tastefulness within the fusion idiom. Disc 1, track 3 and disc 2, track 7 still have the potential to make aspiring six-stringers slam down their guitars in frustration. And the multiple-overdubbed disc 2, track 3 is one of DiMeola’s most beautiful moments. The reissue staff at Columbia have outdone themselves in assembling these twenty tracks as an overview of the guitar legend’s bright career.
Tracks – Disc 1: Land of the Midnight Sun; Suite: Golden Dawn; Race With Devil on Spanish Highway; Elegant Gypsy Suite; Senor Mouse; Casino; Medley: Short Tales From the Black Forest / Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars; The Wizard. Disc 2: Alien Chase on Arabian Desert; Dinner Music of the Gods; Bianca’s Midnight Lullaby; God Bird Change; Electric Rendezvous; Nena; Egyptian Danza; Cruisin’; Island Dreamer; Sequencer; Al Di’s Dream Theme; Theme to the Mothership.