Now that guitar legend Al DiMeola has completed his 'Elegant Gypsy' global tour, which has basically taken up much of the last few years and saw him perform many of his 'electric favorites' in what might be for the last time, it's back to more acoustic flavored original compositions on his latest release Opus. This time around, DiMeola adds some symphonic and World Music elements to his jazz, Latin, and flamenco styles, his always dazzling technique on acoustic, classical, and electric guitar ever present, but you can't have a successful instrumental album without memorable songs, and there are plenty of gorgeous melodies here to go along with impressive musicianship. The leader handles all the guitars, bass, as well as some of the drums & percussion, but he's helped out by drummer Richie Morales, percussionist Rhani Krija, and keyboard player Kemuel Roig, with orchestrations courtesy of Dario Eskenazi.
Lead off track "Milonga Noctiva" is just gorgeous, DiMeola crafting some stupendous melodies with his nylon string guitar, and he blazes with electric might on his Paul Reed Smith guitar for the more jazz -fusion oriented "Broken Heart". Classical meets orchestral meets World on the extended piece "Ava's Dream Sequence Lullaby", just a fascinating track with some incredible steel & nylon string work from Al and plenty of symphonic arrangements. Another great vehicle for the nylon string guitar is the heartwarming "Cerreto Sannita", which also features Roig's exquisite piano and tells the tale of DiMeola's recent visit to his grandfathers village where he got to meet many of his relatives for the first time. The rampaging electric guitar comes back out to duel with acoustic steel string on the complex "Notorious", while "Frozen in Time" is just a beautiful song complete with lush melodies and masterful acoustic work from DiMeola. The back end of the album features a few more classy acoustic pieces that will trigger your emotions, such as "Left Unsaid" and "Escapado", each one brimming with gorgeous guitar passages as only DiMeola can play them, and he layers in some fiery electric solos on the menacing closer "Rebels", easily one of the highlights on the album that also features some deft piano from Roig, tricky drum fills courtesy of Morales, and lots of blazing acoustic guitar from the leader.
In the booklet, DiMeola gives some insight into the writing of each song and the inspiration behind it, which is a great way for the listener to get into the mindset of the artist and look at these compositions with a different perspective. Guitar fans rejoice, there's plenty of superhuman six string pyrotechnics here, though just keep in mind that 75% of it is more acoustic in nature. A wonderful album by one of our musical treasures.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. Milonga Noctiva
2. Broken Heart
3. Ava's Dream Sequence Lullaby
4. Cerreto Sannita
6. Frozen in Time
9. Left unsaid