Al Di Meola

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Artist Name
Al Di Meola

Al Di Meola is an award-winning American jazz and world music composer, producer, and guitarist who has enjoyed a successful music career spanning more than four decades.

A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Di Meola was born in 1954 and grew up with parents who encouraged him to pursue a musical education in some capacity. By age eight, Di Meola had already taken up the guitar and quickly developed a proficiency for the instrument, writing his own compositions shortly thereafter. In the early seventies Di Meola enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he honed his skills as a major jazz-fusion artist.

What would come to be Di Meola’s first major break came with his involvement with the Tony Williams Lifetime in 1974. Under the direction of Miles Davis, Di Meola had the opportunity to tour and record with the legendary jazz ensemble and for several years prior to becoming a successful solo artist.

Di Meola’s first album, “Land of the Midnight Sun,” was released in 1976, to critical acclaim. Not only was it a major commercial success, but it also gained recognition from the jazz fusion realm as the emergence of his jazz/flamenco blend.—a style that would later come to be coined Di Meola’s “Mediterranean soubriquet”.

In the late seventies and early eighties, Di Meola became one of the pioneering innovators to bring jazz fusion to the forefront of popular music with tracks such as "Race with Devil on Spanish Highway", "Egyptian Danza", and "Island Dreamers”. He released several critically acclaimed studio albums during this time, such as “Elegant Gypsy” and “Casino,” and collaborated with several other luminaries in music, from John McLaughin to Jaco Pastorius.

Di Meola would go on to experiment heavily with world music elements during the mid-eighties. While his solo material during this period was not as commercially successful as some of his earlier efforts, it peaked the musical curiosity of many world music fans. Al next teamed up with other guitar legends such as Paco deLucia and John McLaughlin in a collaborative project “Friday Night in San Francisco”, which drew a huge international audience.

In the late nineties, Di Meola began to record and include noticeable examples of Afro-Cuban music in his music. He worked with some of the pillars of contemporary Cuban music, and his albums of this time stand as great examples of Di Meola’s technical prowess and his sensitivity to Latin structured music. His rare mix of interesting sounds, including everything from classical guitar to electric, along with his unique admixture of Latin sounds, made him an iconic figure in the Latin and jazz-fusion genres.

Di Meola has continued to make music throughout the 2000s, having released several acclaimed solo albums. To date, Di Meola has released more than 30 albums, and his influence on musicians—particularly in the jazz, fusion and world music communities is unmeasurable. He has earned many accolades, including several Grammy award nominations and innumerable recordings have been made in honor of his genius.

Since his expansion of fusion forms started, Di Meola has become an icon in the genre. His complex improvisations conjure elements of both classical and popular music, strung together with incredibly intricate composition. He was chosen as the Guitar Player Magazine's “Guitar Legend” and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Smithsonian Institute, and his studio and live performances showcase Di Meola at his prime; a master and one-of-a-kind musician.