Al Di Meola's Elegant Gypsy 40th Anniversary Tour
Thu, February 9, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmVariety Playhouse
$40.00 - $170.00
This event is all ageshttp://www.variety-playhouse.com/event/1372969/
A pioneer of blending world music and jazz, going back to early Latin-tinged fusion outings like 1976's Land of the Midnight Sun, 1977's Elegant Gypsy and 1978's Casino, the guitar great has continued to explore the rich influence of flamenco, tango, Middle Eastern, Brazilian and African music throughout his long career.
Di Meola’s most recent release, 2013’s "All Your Life", was an acoustic tour de force that had him revisiting the music of a seminal influence – The Beatles. “I really credit the Beatles for the reason why I play guitar,” he says. “That was a major catalyst for me to want to learn music. So their impact was pretty strong.” A virtual one-man show of virtuosity, it features the guitar great interpreting 14 familiar Beatles tunes in the stripped-down setting of strictly acoustic guitar. All the tracks are imbued with the guitarist’s signature flamenco flourishes, intricate arpeggiating and dazzling cross-picking. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, where the Beatles created most of their records during their heyday, "All Your Life" stands as a triumph in the long and illustrious career of a bona fide guitar hero. “I’ve come full circle with this,” says Di Meola. “I started out my life loving the Beatles, and I never stopped, just like a lot of so many other guitarists from my generation. In the middle, we all went into whatever music we pursued in our careers -- fusion, jazz, whatever it might be. We all wanted to further our craft. But when you come back to the Beatles’ music, it’s like; “Man, this stuff is still happening! All of it!”
Di Meola's ongoing fascination with complex rhythmic syncopation combined with provocative lyrical melodies and sophisticated harmony has been at the heart of his music throughout a celebrated career that has earned him critical accolades, three gold albums and more than six million in record sales worldwide. He has been particularly enamored over the past 20 years by the tango music of the late great Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, whose compositions he has interpreted over time, beginning with 1990's Di Meola Plays Piazzolla, continuing to 1993's Heart of the Immigrants, 2002's Flesh on Flesh and right up to 2007's Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar.
"Piazzolla had a profound effect on my development as a musician and as a person,” says Al. “We became close friends, often communicating by mail. And during the course of this friendship my admiration and desire to learn more about this great man intensified.”
A native of New Jersey who still resides in the Garden State along with a home in Miami, Di Meola was born in Jersey City on July 22, 1954. Growing up in Bergenfield with the music of Elvis Presley, The Ventures and The Beatles, he naturally gravitated to guitar as a youngster and by his early teens was already an accomplished player. Attaining such impressive skills at such a young age didn't come easy for Al but rather was the result of focused dedication and intensive periods of woodshedding between his junior and senior years in high school. “I used to practice the guitar eight to ten hours a day,” he told DownBeat. “And I was trying to find myself, or find the kind of music that suited where I was going with the guitar.”
In 1971, Al enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and by the second semester began playing in a fusion quartet led by keyboardist Barry Miles. A gig tape of that band was later passed on to Chick Corea by a friend of Al's, and in the early part of 1974 the 19-year-old guitarist was tapped to join the fusion super group as a replacement for guitarist Bill Connors. “I was just sitting around my apartment in Boston on a Friday afternoon when Chick called and asked me to come to a rehearsal in New York,” he recalls. “I couldn't believe it. But in 10 minutes I packed some clothes in a bag, got a ride to New York and never saw that apartment in Boston again.”
Following a weekend of rehearsals with Chick, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, Di Meola made his Return to Forever debut at Carnegie Hall on July 3, 1974, officially launching his career into the stratosphere. "Playing with Chick in Return To Forever was the first significant step in my development as a player,” says Al. After three landmark recordings with Return To Forever – 1974's Where Have I Known You Before, 1975's Grammy Award winning No Mystery and 1976's Romantic Warrior – the group disbanded and Al subsequently started up his career as a solo artist.
His 1976 debut as a leader, Land of the Midnight Sun, was a blazing showcase of his signature chops and Latin-tinged compositions that featured a stellar cast including drummers Steve Gadd and Lenny White, bassist Anthony Jackson and Jaco Pastorius, keyboardists Jan Hammer, Barry Miles and Chick Corea, and percussionist Mingo Lewis. Over the course of six more albums with Columbia Records – Elegant Gypsy, Casino, Splendido Hotel, Electric Rendezvous, Tour De Force and Scenario – Al established himself as an influential force in contemporary music.
1980 marked the triumph of the acoustic guitar Trio with Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin. Their debut recording on Columbia Records, Friday Night in San Francisco, became a landmark recording that surpassed the two million mark in sales. The following year, 1981, Di Meola was inducted into Guitar Player’s Gallery of Greats after four consecutive wins as Best Jazz Guitarist in the magazine’s Readers Poll. The three virtuosos in the Trio toured together from 1980 through 1983, releasing the studio album Passion, Grace & Fire in 1982. In 1995, they reunited for a third recording, Guitar Trio, follow by another triumphant world tour. In early 1996, Di Meola formed a new trio with the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and RTF band mate Stanley Clarke called The Rite of Strings. Their self-titled debut was released in 1995. Di Meola subsequently recorded with the likes of opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti, pop stars Paul Simon and Dave Matthews, classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco, Japanese jazz pianist Yutaka Kobayashi and Italian pop star Pino Daniele. Over the course of his career, he has also worked and recorded with Phil Collins, Carlos Santana, Steve Winwood, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Milton Naciemento, Egberto Gismonti, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Steve Vai and Frank Zappa.
1099 Euclid Ave NE
Atlanta, GA, 30307