Al Di Meola
The Plaza Live
Orlando, FL, Saturday, February 11
Al Di Meola is currently on tour celebrating the 40 year anniversary of the seminal jazz fusion album, “Elegant Gypsy.” There are several things that stood out. First, Mr. Di Meola has managed to age very gracefully. Secondly, his guitar playing is just as breathtakingly fluid and brilliant as ever. And given the scope of the performance, it seems as though he is just getting warmed up as an artist.
The Plaza Live in Orlando is a great room to see a show. A one time movie theater, it has been converted for live performances and there isn’t a bad seat in the place. The crowd on Saturday night was near capacity and receptive. Di Meola and band took the stage and wound their way through his catalog, with songs spanning his entire solo career.
These songs are challenging. This isn’t the sort of jazz where endless jamming on a theme is on order, but more akin to classical compositions. This sort of musical athleticism requires a deft agility and nimble dexterity. The songs were delivered with elan and grace uncommon anywhere. With sweeping melodies, fascinating arrangements, and
stunning lyrical fluidity.
He opened the approximately 30 minute acoustic portion of the show with his tender reading of The Beatles “And I love Her.” The band rejoined him incrementally, on an as needed basis. He closed out the acoustic set with “Mediterranean Sundance,” dueting with newest band member, Detroit violinist Evan Garr.
Immediately following, Di Meola related the story of how he was musically introduced to the legendary Paco De Lucia, and their first actual Meeting in Electric Ladyland studios in New York. He closed the show with a blistering rendition of “Race with Devil on Spanish Highway.”
The evening had the ambiance of an intimate gathering of friends with a gracious and exceptional host who just happened to have the best band in the world at his disposal. This tour is not to be missed.