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Al Di Meola - Speak A Volcano - Return To Electric Guitar (DVD) CD (album) cover


Al Di Meola


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.13 | 4 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars A rhapsody of fire!

The subtitle 'return to electric guitar' is perhaps slightly misleading since Di Meola only plays a proper electric guitar for a few of the numbers at the beginning and at the end of the show. He does, however, play a semi-acoustic guitar on other songs on which he can alternate between an electric and acoustic guitar sound within the context of the same song to great effect! Some guitar specialist can surely inform me of how this is done, but it sounds great, anyway! A significant portion of the show is actually purely acoustic, but Di Meola is, after all, a master of all guitars!

Prog fans that are familiar with Al Di Meola's solo career will undoubtedly look for any songs from his classic Jazz-Rock/Fusion albums Elegant Gypsy and Casino. These two albums are surely the primary entries that earned Di Meola his rightful place here at Prog Archives and these two albums are the most loved ones by progressive Rock fans (including this reviewer!). Sadly, there is no music whatsoever from these two albums in this performance. The oldest song, and indeed the only really old song whatsoever featured here, is Chick Corea's Senor Mouse. There are also no songs from the best and most progressive album (i.e. Romantic Warrior) by Return To Forever, the Jazz-Rock group most Prog fans know Di Meola from. But this should not be judged for what is not here, but for what is.

The style involved in this show is a Fusion of Jazz and various Latin styles and focuses on what Di Meola has been doing in the 80's, 90's and 00's. His most recent album, Consequence Of Chaos, was a great musical success and the best Di Meola album for many, many years. Several cuts from that album are here and they sound great both live and on the album. I hesitate to call most of the music of this performance Prog, but it will surely interest many fans of our beloved genre.

The only weak point is in the middle of the show, when it looses its pace a little bit. As many as five of the 13 numbers performed here were written by Astor Piazzolla, undoubtedly a very important influence for Di Meola. I think that this was a bit overkill and the Piazzolla pieces are among the least interesting ones. It is particularly during the acoustic solo section, when the band leaves Al alone on the stage with his acoustic guitar to perform a couple of Piazzolla numbers over some sheet music(!), that the DVD reaches its weakest point. Thankfully, the band returns for a great finale for which the electric guitar is once again plugged in.

This DVD presents a stunning virtuoso performance, oozing with both skill and emotion. The title Rhapsody Of Fire is perhaps a good description of the show! Di Meola surrounds himself with musicians that are as great as he is and the very tasteful light show adds great effect to the whole presentation. All in all, this is a flawless DVD production! As such, Speak A Volcano is sure to please any fan of Di Meola's music and of guitar-based Fusion in general.

Not the optimal place to start investigating Di Meola's long career, but still highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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