About Al Di Meola
Albert Laurence Di Meola is an American guitarist. Known for his works in jazz fusion and world music, he began his career as a guitarist of the group Return to Forever in 1974. Between the 1970s and 1980s, albums such as Elegant Gypsy and Friday Night in San Francisco earned him both critical and commercial success.
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States, into an Italian family with roots in Cerreto Sannita, a small town northeast of Benevento, Di Meola grew up in Bergenfield, where he attended Bergenfield High School. He has been a resident of Old Tappan, New Jersey.
When he was eight years old, he was inspired by Elvis Presley and the Ventures to start playing guitar. His teacher directed him toward jazz standards. He cites as influences jazz guitarists George Benson and Kenny Burrell and bluegrass and country guitarists Clarence White and Doc Watson.
He attended Berklee College of Music in 1971. At nineteen, he was hired by Chick Corea to replace Bill Connors in the pioneering jazz fusion band Return to Forever with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. He recorded three albums with Return to Forever, helping the quartet earn its greatest commercial success as all three albums cracked the Top 40 on the U.S. Billboard pop albums chart. He could play so fast, that he was sometimes criticized for playing too many notes.
As Return to Forever was disbanding around 1976, Di Meola began recording solo albums on which he demonstrated mastery of jazz fusion, flamenco, and Mediterranean music. His album Elegant Gypsy received a gold certification. In 1980, he recorded the acoustic live album, Friday Night in San Francisco, with Paco de Lucía and John McLaughlin.
In the beginning of his career, as evidenced on his first solo album Land of the Midnight Sun , Di Meola was noted for his technical mastery and extremely fast, complex guitar solos and compositions. But even on his early albums, he had begun to explore Mediterranean cultures and acoustic genres like flamenco. Notable examples are "Mediterranean Sundance" and "Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil" from the Elegant Gypsy album .
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