Now that the whole Return to Forever reunion experience is in his rearview mirror (and unlikely to be repeated ever again), guitar star Al Di Meola is pursuing his own musical vision with newfound conviction via his World Sinfonia. Essentially an acoustic ensemble featuring Fausto Beccalossi on accordion and Di Meola’s longtime collaborator Gumbi Ortiz on cajon and assorted hand percussion, along with second guitarist Peo Alfonsi, bassist Victor Miranda and drummer Peter Kaszas, this edition of the World Sinfonia has developed a tightly knit chemistry through frequent touring. This limited-edition release, the first in a series of live recordings being sold initially at World Sinfonia gigs, documents their easy rapport in concerts held in Seattle, San Francisco and Istanbul.
Comparing early Al di Meola dates like Land of the Midnight Sun and Casino to his albums of the 1990s, it's clear how much his playing has softened. The exceptional World Sinfonia, an entirely acoustic CD, makes it clear that what hasn't changed is his unpredictable, spontaneous nature. Di Meola's right-hand man throughout this highly introspective date is the soulful bandonean player Dino Saluzzi, with whom he enjoys an undeniably strong rapport. A long-time lover of world music, di Meola incorporates South American, Spanish, and Middle Eastern elements, and makes Argentine tango a very high priority.
Fusion firebrand Al Di Meola continues his passion of the 1990s, compositions written and inspired by Astor Piazzolla. With the virtuosity of his playing, Di Meola is often overlooked as a composer, and The Grande Passion underscores what a fine composer he is. String arrangements color "Double Concerto," the title track, and several other pieces, but Di Meola hardly needs orchestral frills to legitimize his already epic compositions. The guitarist has slipped from critical prominence since the days of Return to Forever, Splendido Hotel, but Di Meola spent the 1990s doing some of his best work with his World Sinfonia group and The Grande Passion starts the new millennium in fine form.
Pioneering Jazz and fusion guitarist hits road in early'09 with worldly new band. With World Sinfonia, Di Meola exhibits a fresh range of emotions in his music in a way that goes beyond pure technique.