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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 traditionsin addition to interesting instrumentation including accordiondemonstrate 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).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.