Al di Meola, who in his early days sometimes sacrificed feeling for speed (he always had remarkable technique), grew and developed through the years. His final of three Manhattan releases is his finest, a sextet outing with keyboardist Kei Akagi, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, acoustic bassist Harvie Swartz, drummer Tommy Brechtlein, and his longtime percussionist, Mino Cinelu. Having grown out of his fusion roots, di Meola's interest in world music and folk music from other countries is displayed throughout this colorful set, particularly on such numbers as "Beijing Demons," "Song to the Pharoah Kings," and the exciting "Rhapsody of Fire."
The U.K.'s BGO Records reissues three Al di Meola mid-'80s albums on a pair of CDs. First is the nearly smooth jazz Soaring Through a Dream released originally on EMI's Manhattan imprint in 1985 – this album was an attempt by the great guitarist to score a hit single or two on the then-newly formed smooth jazz radio format.
With a curriculum vitae rich of exciting musical moments and incredible works, Al Di Meola is still challenging himself and his music but with a more relaxed way to see things. Over the last few years he has literally started all over, reinventing himself in both, his private life and music, and his brand new studio album "OPUS" truly reflects all of this. 'With "OPUS" I wanted to further my compositional skills as I think that the evolution of this part of my persona has labeled me more composer/guitarist than guitarist/composer', says Al. 'At the same time this record also marks a new era in my life. For the first time in my life, I have written music being happy, I'm in a wonderful relationship with my wife, I have a baby girl and a beautiful family that inspires me every day. I believe it shows in the music.' Available on CD, 180 gram Vinyl and Digital.
A high point of the Moroccan music festival is without doubt the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco. Al Di Meola’s fantastic appearance in 2009 also represented a summit of different cultures and religions – Al Di Meola (guitar), Peo Alfonsi (2nd guitar), Fausto Beccalossi (accordion), Gumbi Ortiz (percussion), Victor Miranda (bass), Peter Kaszas (drums), and with special guests from Morocco, Said Chraibi (oud), Abdellah Meri (violin) and Tarik Ben Ali (percussion). On his third trip to Morocco, the public gave this exceptional guitarist a rousing reception and showed ist openness towards Western music – and Al Di Meola wowed the audience with a special repertoire.