Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, Jean-Luc Ponty: Indigo
The Rite of Strings (I.R.S. Records 7243 8 34167)
Composed by Al Di Meola.
Recorded: Hollywood, CA, April 1995
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
It is especially satisfying to hear the fine guitarist Al Di Meola once again playing with his fellow Return to Forever bandmate Stanley Clarke. When Di Meola first joined Chick Corea's fusion supergroup of the '70s, after the departure of original guitarist Bill Connors, he needed the speed and dexterity to play the testosterone-infused music that was prevalent at the time. He also had to keep up with Formula 1 drivers Corea, Clarke and White who comprised that band. Di Meola proved in no uncertain terms to have chops to spare, but in his subsequent solo outings he was unfairly accused of having speed but no soul. In this acoustic setting with Clarke and Ponty, Di Meola's soul is exposed throughout with his tasty solo work, but particularly with his accomplished and deft accompaniment.
On this Di Meola composition, we are gently led into the tune by a beautifully finger-picked entry backed by Clarke's heartbeat basslines. Ponty's probing but silky violin plays the mysteriously flamenco-inspired melody line. Clarke's perfectly syncopated bassline leads into a sympathetic Di Meola chordal feast behind Ponty's melody-driven solo. Clarke takes a breathtakingly creative solo as Di Meola brilliantly comps behind him in masterful understatement. When Al finally solos, Stanley returns the favor with an equally accomplished bassline. Di Meola's limited use of his breath-actuated synthesized effect on his closing guitar solo evokes the sound of an Andean wood pipe and fits perfectly within the context of the tune's overall South American flavor. Stirring music.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello
In Conversation with Jean-Luc Ponty by Thierry Quénum
Tags: 1990s jazz