jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola. It was released in 1977 on Columbia Records.
Elegant Gypsy was a follow-up album to Di Meola's debut release, Land of the Midnight Sun. The distinctive music on the album is a speedy fusion of jazz and rock,
with lightning-fast guitar riffs intermixed with lyrical acoustical
passages. The songs include explorations of Latin music themes,
including acoustic genres like flamenco
Elegant Gypsy won an annual award for Best Guitar Album in Guitar Player Magazine.
Guitarist Al di Meola's second record as a leader is generally an explosive affair, although it does have a fair amount of variety. With Jan Hammer or Barry Miles on keyboards, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Lenny White (Steve Gadd takes his place on the "Elegant Gypsy Suite"), and percussionist Mingo Lewis on most of the selections, di Meola shows off his speedy and rock-ish fusion style. He was still a member of Return to Forever at the time and was a stronger guitarist than composer, but di Meola
did put a lot of thought into this music. The brief "Lady of Rome,
Sister of Brazil" (an acoustic guitar solo) and "Mediterranean Sundance"
(an acoustic duet with fellow guitarist Paco de Lucía) hints at di Meola's future directions. A near classic in the fusion vein.
Al Dimeola, at the time of this release, was the best fusion guitarist
on the planet. (Mclaughlin lacked the energy that he had before
Mahavishnu broke up and Holdsworth had yet to reach the great heights
that he would find in the eighties). Dimeola is at his best composition
wise as well as in his playing. "Flight Over Rio" and "Midnight Tango"
are examples of this. Al and a Les Paul are meant to be together.
"Mediterannean Sundance" is a duet with Paco DeLucia and a complete
acoustic extravaganza.The guitar artistry displayed by both is
unbelievable. This is a piece that can be listened to over and over.
"Race With the Devil on Spanish Highway" is the electric extravaganza
and a favorite of anybody that has heard it. Unison 32nd note lines are
just a part of this Dimeola classic. The writing is amazing and Al has
never sounded better. The rest of the disc consists of a percussion
piece and then finally there is the title track which is another Dimeola
masterwork. The band on this disc is incredible. Jan Hammer, Steve
Gadd, Anthony Jackson, and Mingo Lewis all are phenomenal musicians in
there own right and Dimeola has all of them playing at their usual
amazing heights. If you are only familiar with RTF and are wondering why
Al would leave them for a solo career this disc has the answers. A must
have for any jazz/fusion fan or guitar enthusiast.
Al DiMeola was certainly the Jimi Hendrix of the 70's Jazz Fusion
movement. And, this is his best disc from that period. Di Meola's music
was also a precursor to the best World and New Age music of the 80s and
90s. Just because Jazz-fusion is out of fashion with the Jazz
intelligentsia, doesn't mean DiMeola needs to be discounted. On the
contrary, he inspired many to seek a new path for jazz's survival into
the late 20th century and beyond. He also helped the uninitiated
understand that Jazz is a cross-pollinating "bastard" musical form (in
the best sense of the word) that is beyond musical category. I love
Dixieland Jazz, Stride, Swing, Bebop, Afro-Cuban Jazz, West Coast Cool,
Jazz Funk, 80s Neoclassic, Third Wave, etc, etc. I also love the best of
Jazz Fusion. This is it!
Back when I was in junior high school, I subscribed to Guitar Player
magazine, and in their annual awards issue, Al DiMeola won best jazz
guitarist and this album won best guitar album. I'd never heard of him
or it, I knew nothing about jazz or fusion, but hey, 'best guitar
album', what did I have to lose? What I heard simply blew my mind, it
was unlike anything I was prepared for. It changed my life. It even
changed the way I play guitar. Al DiMeola remains my favorite guitarist,
and this remains my favorite of his albums. You absolutely cannot go
wrong with it.
1. Flight Over Rio (7:16)
2. Midnight Tango (7:28)
3. Mediterranean Sundance (5:14)
4. Race With Devil On Spanish Highway (6:18)
5. Lady Of Rome, Sister Of Brazil (1:46)
6. Elegant Gypsy Suite (9:16)
Total Time: 37:18
Al Di Meola: Electric guitars, acoustic guitars, piano, synthesizer, percussion.
Paco de Lucía: Acoustic guitar (track 3).
Anthony Jackson: Bass guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6).
Jan Hammer: Keyboards, synthesizer (tracks 1, 6).
Barry Miles: Piano, keyboards, synthesizer (tracks 2, 4).
Steve Gadd: Drums (tracks 1, 6).
Lenny White: Drums (tracks 2, 4).
Mingo Lewis: Congas, synthesizers, organ, percussion (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6).