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November 2002

Al Di Meola
Flesh on Flesh
Telarc

With Flesh on Flesh, guitarist Al Di Meola attempts to marry Latin sounds to his familiar fusion. To that end, Di Meola was obviously committed-at least in the personnel department. The guitarist assembled a mob of Latin musicians for the recording, including pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, flutist Alejandro Santos and members of World Sinfonia. He also chooses some interesting music to cover, including pieces by Astor Piazzolla, Egberto Gismonti and Chick Corea. Unfortunately, Di Meola and band flatten the personality out of those tunes.

A glossy, lightweight, inorganic artifact, Flesh on Flesh seems to go Latin only when the straight, synthesizer-backed fusion settings get old, and vice versa. Di Meola mirrors the strategy in his own playing-switching from electric Strat to nylon string as he moves from one phrase to the next-rather than commanding attention through his playing. The percussion is so intractable it could have been programmed; the horns often sound so compartmentalized and peripheral it's almost as if they've been laminated; and the talents of Rubalcaba, who is left little to do save for the generation of endless arpeggios, are completely wasted.

Originally published in November 2002
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