Al DiMeola LIve at the Key Club
On any given night in Los Angeles, music lovers can go out on the town and hear any music they want. However, tonight the great Al Di Meola was in town at the Key Club on the Sunset Strip and that was the place to be. The lines of people snaked down three, long, city blocks, down the Sunset Strip then up and around the Hollywood Hills. The huge video marquee perched high above the Key Club flashed AL DI MEOLA – ONE NIGHT ONLY, in bright lights as thousands of revelers enjoyed the holiday spirit, cruising down the Sunset Strip in shiny drop tops, limos and SUVs. AL Di Meola inspires devotion.
The die-hard Di Meola fans that had waited in line since 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon were the first admitted. They darted straight for the front row while we took our seats in the upstairs balcony so that we could see the great Al Di Meola, Gumbi Ortiz, Gilad and Mario Parmisano in full surround sound and with a great view. The ambiance of the club and The Plush only added to the excitement in the air. Children, teens, x-gens, baby boomers and elderly chaperones were there and everywhere you looked, their faces were full of love.
The announcer spoke, the lights dimmed, Al DiMeola took the stage. The ensemble immediately launched into several songs from THE GRANDE PASSION, his latest release on Telarc Jazz. “The Grande Passion” was an impressive work of art with epic sweeps that Di Meola detailed divinely with his guitar picks. Filled with the emotional essence of the master guitarist, this performance provided several of the best moments of the night with his musical literature, poetic power and provocative strumming captivating every person in the room. Playing both acoustic and electric guitars, Di Meola showed why his is still the reigning guitar god and his fusion is melodic, sophisticated and compelling as ever.
“Misterio” was excellent. The new fusion going down was met with frequent shouts of “yeah,” and the same raw emotion that asserted itself in many of the same rock audiences that had previously flocked to see him. However the ensemble avoided the on-stage recapitulation of his hit records and stayed with the program from THE GRANDE PASSION. With great orchestrations from Mario Parmisano on both acoustic piano and synthesizer, the feel of a symphony orchestra was very much present and set a great mood for “Libertango,” the rousing tango composed by Astor Piazzolla. Played in pure Di Meola style, the crowd centered on his remarkable strumming that still defies gravity and tapped into the song’s encompassing musical structure as they sat on the edges of their seats. Throughout the show, Gumbi Ortiz was on fire on the congas and Gilad provided excellent percussive punctuation. A really great “rhythmic conversation” between Al and Gilad really sparked the crowd to its feet with their rhythmic duet.
Los Angeles really loves Al Di Meola and with shouts of “bravo,”” more,””more,” standing ovations, high fives, and frenzied emotions (one lady, overcome with emotion, literally came up to me, hugged & kissed me and made the sign of the cross for Al!), Al Di Meola’s star is shining brightly. His music is spirited, romantic, beautiful and sensuous and really affects the senses. He really distinguished himself with his sure instinct for exalted tones and excellent strumming and as evidenced by tonight’s performance his many fans, both new and old, can be assured that the world-class, celebrated guitar player is at the top of his game and has rightfully retained his revered position in guitar history. We love you Al!