Comparing early Al di Meola dates like Land of the Midnight Sun and Casino to his albums of the 1990s, it's clear how much his playing has softened. The exceptional World Sinfonia, an entirely acoustic CD, makes it clear that what hasn't changed is his unpredictable, spontaneous nature. Di Meola's right-hand man throughout this highly introspective date is the soulful bandonean player Dino Saluzzi, with whom he enjoys an undeniably strong rapport. A long-time lover of world music, di Meola incorporates South American, Spanish, and Middle Eastern elements, and makes Argentine tango a very high priority. The improvisor's reverence for Argentina's musical heritage is especially evident on Astor Piazzola's haunting "Tango Suite" and di Meola's soul-bearing ode to the tango legend, "Last Tango for Astor." But World Sinfonia's standout track and most pleasant surprise of all is a 12-minute interpretation of Chick Corea's 1975 Return to Forever classic "No Mystery," which works quite well in an acoustic setting.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson