Al Di Meola (nee Al Dimeola) certainly has come along way from his native New Jersey to the stage of the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco, where this DVD was filmed on May 20, 2009. But there’s no need to question why. In modern jazz circles, Di Meola is among the most respected guitarists in the world, with lightening speed fingers playing in scale style.
One has been repeatedly hailed as the world's best guitarist, the other is Russia's most successful musician. And together, Al Di Meola and Leonid Agutin are simply unbeatable. For their DVD "Cosmopolitan Live", the two have created a unique sound, giving crossover a new dimension. Is this sophisticated pop for adults, then? Or popular world music? No matter, the sounds created by this fantastic duo will seduce every music-lover. Dreamily beautiful pop tunes meld with Russian jazz, Gypsy rhythms and Argentinian tango.
Generally speaking, guitar wizard Al Di Meola has divided his musical attentions over the years between electric and acoustic, fusion and world music directions. This time out he splits the difference with some dazzling results. Coming off his short-lived reunion with Return to Forever, Di Meola returns to the solo spotlight with Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody, a strong and varied effort that moves mostly in the acoustic direction and features some high-profile personnel, including pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and bassist Charlie Haden.
With a musical career spanning more than three decades, Al Di Meola continues to be one of the most influential and pioneering guitarists in the jazz-world-fusion category, mirroring the rich influences of flamenco, tango, Brazilian, African, and Middle Eastern music in his work. Recorded in 1993 at the North Sea Jazz Festival, an event widely acknowledged as the biggest and most prestigious festival in the world. Over the past 30 years, Al Di Meola has been recognized as a prolific composer, with over two dozen recordings to his name. The profundity of Di Meola s writing, along with the soulfulness and natural lyricism of his playing, have won him a large number of admirers worldwide.
Following up the superb Elegant Gypsy was no mean feat, but Al di Meola gave it his best shot with the similarly styled Casino, released in 1978. Featuring a core band of Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson, and Barry Miles (whom di Meola came up with before the guitarist was invited to join Return to Forever), the playing is sharp and fiery, matching the youthful intensity of the leader. Di Meola is a good composer in the fusion idiom, and the four original compositions on Casino, although clearly bearing the mark of Chick Corea's influence, are strong. His "Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars," featuring di Meola accompanying himself via multi-tracking, is beautiful and dramatic, and hints at the guitarist's later all-acoustic works such as Friday Night in San Francisco.