With the help of new generations of guitar synthesizers and samplers, The Infinite Desire finds a mature, lyrical, more expressive Al di Meola casting his lot with Telarc, which until the late '90s had concentrated its attentions upon aging acoustic jazzers. Indeed, he makes marvelously musical use of the new devices, creating sensuous, exotic layers of sound that lie easily upon the ear, without much of the usual harshness of digital instruments generated by those who haven't bothered to master them. "Shaking the Spirits" in particular is a fascinating piece, loaded with dazzling Middle Eastern and African colorations, and the sampled trumpet sound he gets on "Valentina" is astoundingly lifelike.
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.
If you're an air guitarist, Al di Meola has likely been your man since his days as an unknown 21-year-old addition to Chick Corea's Return to Forever in the mid-'70s. Over the years since leaving RTF, he has been afforded the opportunity to record regularly, and this CD represents a good overview of his discography, primarily for the Columbia family of labels. His early dates Land of the Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy, and Casino are well represented, in addition to his collaborations with Jan Hammer on Tour de Force: Live. His middle-period efforts are not all that vital, as repeat ideas and predictable flash lost their original value even to the staunchest fans, therefore making this collection less than essential.
One of the guitar heroes of fusion, Al di Meola was just 22-years-old at the time of his debut as a leader but already a veteran of Chick Corea's Return to Forever. The complex pieces (which include the three-part "Suite-Golden Dawn," an acoustic duet with Corea on "Short Tales of the Black Forest," and a brief Bach violin sonata show di Meola's range even at this early stage. With assistance from such top players as bassists Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke, keyboardist Barry Miles, and drummers Lenny White and Steve Gadd, this was a very impressive beginning to di Meola's solo career.
Too some, Al di Meola is best known for is shredding guitar work as part of Return to Forever, and also his early solo albums. But di Meola has always had an interest in flamenco styled acoustic playing ("Mediterranean Sundance" off of Elegant Gypsy, anyone?) – which is the six-string style that he fully embraces on his 2007 release, Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar, Vol. 1: Music of Astor Piazzolla. Like its title says, the album is comprised solely of renditions of tunes by Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla, who is best known for trailblazing the nuevo tango style (which contained traces of both jazz and classical). And di Meola has no problem offering up a fine tribute, especially on such tracks as "Campero" and "Romantico."