Al Di Meola

The Infinite Desire

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With the help of new generations of guitar synthesizers and samplers, The Infinite Desire finds a mature, lyrical, more expressive Al di Meola casting his lot with Telarc, which until the late '90s had concentrated its attentions upon aging acoustic jazzers. Indeed, he makes marvelously musical use of the new devices, creating sensuous, exotic layers of sound that lie easily upon the ear, without much of the usual harshness of digital instruments generated by those who haven't bothered to master them. "Shaking the Spirits" in particular is a fascinating piece, loaded with dazzling Middle Eastern and African colorations, and the sampled trumpet sound he gets on "Valentina" is astoundingly lifelike. Also, di Meola's playing became more unabashedly fluid in the '90s; on the closest thing to a straight-ahead track, "Invention of the Monsters," di Meola's electric guitar curls intricately and swingingly around the bass of Tom Kennedy, Ernie Adams' drums, and some synthesized brass. Di Meola's co-conspirators change from track to track, although two who figure a lot in the sound and package are keyboardist Rachel Z (a former di Meola sidewoman) and bassist John Patitucci. Also check out Herbie Hancock on acoustic grand and Peter Erskine's drums on "Istanbul," and di Meola's fairly good-natured duel with rock guitarist Steve Vai on "Race with Devil on Turkish Highway."

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