Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucia: Fantasia Suite
The Guitar Trio
Friday Night in San Francisco (Columbia/Legacy CK 65168)
Composed by Al Di Meola.
Recorded: live in San Francisco, CA, December 5, 1980
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
The first time the record listener heard The Guitar Trio as a full group was on this track. There is no telling if it was the first tune heard in live performance that Friday night. It would be good to know. Regardless, the crowd's giddy anticipation is still palpably felt during the performance. Audience members gasp at the technique and interplay they are hearing, and even yell out inappropriately in support of "their man." It's funny how these concerts worked sometimes. It depended on where you saw the group as to who was the crowd's favorite. I would say on this evening, there was a slightly larger Di Meola contingent in the audience. I saw the trio in Hartford one time, and it was clearly a McLaughlin crowd. I assume that when the trio played in Spain, De Lucia was the star.
"Fantasia Suite" is not the cleanest performance you will hear. There are enough flubs to count. And at times it suffers from the "too many cooks" syndrome. But considering the heat and energy that was being created by 30 fingers and 18 acoustic strings it was a wonder that the group didn't spontaneously combust on stage à la one of Spinal Tap's drummers. It was hard enough for two players to play a lightning-fast unison run that contained 337 notes. But three? Detractors say it is all about fireworks. I agree. Much of it was about fireworks that those same detractors couldn't play themselves. It is pure jealousy on their part, if you ask me. Besides, what's so bad about fireworks if it gets your blood flowing? Isn't good music supposed to do that? This is show business after all.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky