Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar, Vol. I, Music of Astor Piazzolla
Al Di Meola first examined tango music in depth on 1990’s Di Meola Plays Piazzolla (Atlantic), his heartfelt tribute to the great Argentine composer and bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla. On this collection of intricate and fiendishly challenging Piazzolla compositions, the renowned virtuoso holds his blazing fusion tendencies in check for the most part, instead immersing himself into the inherent beauty of each piece with a nuanced, soulful touch. And he puts his own stamp on these formidable compositions with a syncopated rhythmic approach that varies from Piazzolla’s original written conception. Performing on nylon-string classical guitar and with minimal percussive accompaniment (touches of cajon or djembe by assistant producer Hernan Romero or overdubbed by Di Meola himself), the guitarist explores rhythmically driving numbers like “Tangata del Alba,” “Milonga del Angel” and “Adios Nonino” with the kind of passionate flamenco flair he demonstrated alongside John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia in their widely heralded acoustic guitar trio. And he handles the more subdued ballads like “Poema Valseado” and the gorgeous “Romantico” with elegant restraint. On a purely technical level, Di Meola’s radical string skipping and precision- picking prowess on “Tema de Maria” and the unaccompanied “Milonga Carrieguera” will cause guitar aficionados to marvel while his daredevil runs on “Campero” will cause jaws to drop.