By John D. Bess
To guitar aficionados and jazz junkies, the man needs no introduction. For those unfamiliar with his exploits over the last 20-plus years, here's a recap. At the ripe old age of 19, he was tapped by piano virtuoso Chick Corea to join the now legendary fusion supergroup Return to Forever. Dimeola not only held his own alongside such jazz heavyweights as Corea, Lenny White and Stanley Clarke, but went on to make his own brand of Latin/jazz/rock solo albums that set the music world on fire. Over the course of his first five albums, Dimeola was voted Guitar World Magazine's Guitarist of the Year so often they retired him from the category.
Describing Dimeola's playing remains difficult at best. How does one describe virtuosity, passion and supreme lyricism? If you're a country music fan, imagine Chet Atkins or Vince Gill at their blistering best. If you're a metalhead, think Yngwie Malmsteen. If you're a rocker, take Steve Vai and Joe Satriani and dip them both in a pool of good taste. If your musical leanings never stray beyond the Downtown scene, recall the last time you saw our own Eric Mcfadden's quasi-acoustic axe work. Now you have some idea of Dimeola's incredible facility and command of the instrument. Indeed, he has long been the standard by which all guitarists are judged.
Dimeola's greatest feat is his ability to harness this technical prowess in the service of great instrumental songs. Aside from his one attempt at a pop tune during a early-'80s collaboration with Miami Vice's Jan Hammer, his songs have been soaring, passionate, polyrhythmic adventures. His career has spanned the jazz/funk/meltdown of the fusion era, solo Latin jazz flights and world music with his own World Synfonia. This show is not to be missed.
Al Dimeola appears Tuesday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m., as part of Popejoy Hall's Ovation series. $20,$29,$32. 277-4569.
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