Al Di Meola

Cielo e Terra/Soaring Through a Dream

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The U.K.'s BGO Records doesn't usually miss with their reissues. They always remaster their titles beautifully, provide excellent liner notes, and most importantly, assemble fine titles -- usually a couple of excellent, chronologically closely released ones. Not so here. What possessed the label to issue these three Al di Meola mid-'80s duds on a pair of CDs is actually rather puzzling. First is the nearly smooth jazz Soaring Through a Dream released originally on EMI's Manhattan imprint in 1985 -- this album was an attempt by the great guitarist to score a hit single or two on the then-newly formed radio format. There is nothing wrong with smooth jazz as a genre, but the music here is generally poorly conceived and performed. Next is the lightweight acoustic set Cielo e Terra, released during the same year, that is easily the best in this sorry bunch. It at least contains a couple of fine tunes such as the title track and "Atavism of Twilight." Finally, the 1987 offering, Tirami Su, was a half-hearted attempt by the guitarist to return to fusion -- the very thing that had established his reputation in the first place. Together these three albums make for a dull, unfocused and even and confusing listening experience. Avoid.

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