Al Di Meola

Kiss My Axe

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Despite the aggression its title implies, Kiss My Axe is the work of a softer, more reflective Al di Meola, who had become greatly influenced by Pat Metheny's subtle lyricism, but still had a very recognizable and distinctive sound. Di Meola's new approach was perfectly summarized when, in 1991, he told Jazz Times he wanted to be "enchanted" by the music instead of dazzling listeners with his considerable chops. Di Meola still has fine technique, but avoids overwhelming us with it, and shows more restraint than before. One thing that remains is the guitarist's strong interest in world music -- this imaginative session liberally incorporates Latin influences (Brazilian, Spanish, Peruvian and Afro-Cuban) as well as Middle Eastern and African elements. In that Jazz Times interview, di Meola explained that this CD's title resulted in part from his frustration over the fact that many labels and commercial radio stations were choosing bloodless "elevator muzak" over more adventurous fusion. Consistently rewarding, Axe makes it clear that di Meola did the right thing by refusing to compromise.

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