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Al Di Meola / John McLaughlin / Paco de Lucía

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Artist Name
Al Di Meola / John McLaughlin / Paco de Lucía

Al Di Meola

Al Di Meola is a celebrated guitarist who has dazzled audiences with his mastery of jazz, rock, and classical music for over four decades. Born on July 22, 1954 in Jersey City, New Jersey, Di Meola grew up in a family of Italian descent. Music was a part of his life from an early age. When he was four years old, Di Meola's uncle gave him his first instrument, a mandolin. Di Meola's affinity for music was obvious due to his immediate ability to play the mandolin. By the age of nine, Di Meola had taken up the guitar, taking formal lessons from his family friend and professional guitarist Tom Petty.

Di Meola enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in 1971 at the young age of 17. While he was a student at Berklee Di Meola earned himself a reputation as a prodigy, displaying incredible improvisational skills on the guitar. Di Meola's teachers, notably teacher Joe Viola, recognized his exceptional ability. From Viola's teaching Di Meola developed a hybrid picking style, which combined the use of pick and fingers for soloing. After graduating from Berklee in 1974, Di Meola soon joined the group of guitarist John McLaughlin and fellow Berklee classmate, bassist, SteveGadd.

Di Meola gained fame during his early days with McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, touring the United States and Europe from 1973 to 1975. After the Mahavishnu Orchestra eventually disbanded, DiMeola proceeded to embark on a successful solo career. Throughout his long career as a solo artist, Di Meola has explored a wide array of musical styles. His inspired collaborations with jazz artists Jean-Luc Ponty (in Two to Tango and Live at Montreaux) guitarists John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía, vocalist Wayne Shorter, and bassists Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller have featured a more meditative, progressive, and funk-infused approach to jazz-rock.

Di Meola has created over 30 albums that span genres ranging from conventional jazz, jazz fusion, Latin jazz, acoustic jazz, flamenco, and even world music. He has achieved critical acclaim throughout his career, winning numerous Grammy Award nominations. Di Meola has also spawned improvisational, modern jazz-rock ensembles reminiscent of the 70s Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Since 2000 Di Meola has been a enthralling performer due to the way he weaves in classical, jazz, funk and world music pieces, as well as original compositions, into improvisational “stretches” – experiments in intensity and energy crescendo proved to excite audiences worldwide. His vibrant stage presence and skillful leads wit captivating improvisations have made him one of the most revered guitarists in jazz.

John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin is a British-born jazz guitarist, composer, and music producer known for his contributions to jazz-rock fusion, progressive rock, and experimental jazz. Born on January 4, 1942 in Doncaster, England, McLaughlin grew up in a musically inclined family, learning to play violin and trumpet as a child. After honing his skills on guitar, McLaughlin received his first major attention as a writer for British music magazines such as Jazz Monthly, Melody Maker, Disc, and Sounds.

In 1964 McLaughlin moved to London in pursuit of an international music career. During this time, McLaughlin struggled financially and was often homeless, sleeping on park benches and playing small local clubs. He played regularly now with jazz greats Danny Thompson and Joe Morello and studied composition with avant-garde pianist/composer Francis monkman at the Royal National college of Music.

In 1967 McLaughlin was recruited to form the band John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. It was during this time that McLaughlin met future drummer Tony Williams, who would later form the seminal jazz/funk/rock band Lifetime with McLaughlin. McLaughlin and Williams formed Lifetime in 1969 and began to traverse the boundaries between jazz fusion and progressive rock. In 1971 McLaughlin released his first solo album “Extrapolation” and soon formed the landmark progressive jazz-rock fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra gaining the attention of jazz fans worldwide.

Mahavishnu Orchestra released their second studio album Inner Mounting Flame in 1971 and followed their debut with Birds of Fire (1972), The Lost Trident Sessions (1973), and Visions of the Emerald Beyond (1975). The band's influence has been felt through subsequent jazz-rock/funk fusion groups such as Weather Report and Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. Following the dissolution of Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1976, McLaughlin released an impressive range of solo albums in both fusion and jazz styles.

In 1988 McLaughlin formed the acoustic group Guitar Trio with flamenco guitar veteran Paco de Lucía and jazz guitar legend Al Di Meola. Each toured separately from 1996 onward and McLaughlin completed a solo acoustic tour with John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension in 2007. Over the years McLaughlin has worked with a variety of other musicians in folk, flamenco, jazz, world music, and rock genres. He continues to tour with the various line-ups of the John McLaughlin Trio as well.

Paco de Lucía

Paco de Lucía was a Spanish flamenco and classical guitar virtuoso born Francisco Sánchez Gómez on 21 December 1947 in Algeciras, Cádiz, Spain. De Lucía received his first guitar at the age of five from his father. With frequent help from family members, he was able to develop his natural talent into a mastery of flamenco guitar. He cited cante jondo, a style of deep flamenco singing, as one of the major influences on his play.

During the 60s de Lucía had early success playing at local festivals and collaborating with other flamenco stars. He performed in Los Chulos de Jerez and recorded numerous well-received solo albums during this time. He relocated to Madrid in 1967 and released El Duende Flamenco de Paco de Lucía. He deftly combined jazz-rock fusion with flamenco on his subsequent solo albums, earning de Lucía more recognition within the Spanish music industry. In 1973 de Lucía released “Fantasia Flamenca,” a live collaboration with keyboardist Larry Coryell. This album won the artist his first of four Grammy Awards.

De Lucía continued to collaborate with some of the world’s greatest guitarists throughout the 70s. He formed the brilliant guitar trio with jazz guitarist John McLaughlin and classical guitarist Al Di Meola, blinding audiences with the group’s virtuosity. De Lucía had a great solo career in which he pushed flamenco guitar to its limits, creating innovative polyrhythmic pieces. In 1992 de Lucía reached a mainstream Spanish audience as part of the internationally touring collective Projecto Escultura Sonora.

Having played classical guitar for most of his life, de Lucía collaborated with classical composers such as Manuel de Falla and Heitor Villa-Lobos. He archived a successful crossover to the classical realm culminating in his performance at the 2003 International Classical Music Awards. De Lucía also gave masterclasses, educating his fans and aspiring guitarists around the world.

In 2014 De Lucía tour his last concert in Chinchilla, Spain before passing on early the following year. He has been regarded as one of the greatest flamenco guitarists of all time. His contributions to guitar, classical, and flamenco have earned him tributes and recognitions all over the world. Ultimately, Paco de Lucía devoted his life to providing the world with some of the most extraordinary music.