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Al Di Meola: The Endless Tango

Across continents, generations, instruments and sensibilities, Al Di Meola remains committed to the Nuevo Tango of Astor Piazzolla

Al Di Meola at Freihofer Jazz Festival at Saratoga Springs
Al Di Meola

Al Di Meola, a guitarist still associated with the mid-’70s jazz-rock moment in which he rose to prominence, might seem an unlikely candidate for a tanguero. Yet over the past quarter-century, Di Meola’s relationship with Argentine Nuevo Tango legend Astor Piazzolla and his music has resulted in a new band, a new sound and a fresh approach to his own work. It’s been an unusual tango danced, as the original tangos were, by two men, across generational and cultural divides and even life and death.

Di Meola and Piazzolla first met at a jazz festival in Sapporo, Japan, in 1986. For the next few years they corresponded, enjoyed one another’s company whenever their paths crossed, exchanged music and made plans. Then, on Aug. 5, 1990, Piazzolla suffered a stroke. He lingered on for nearly two years-a grim, heartbreaking ordeal-before dying on July 4, 1992, at age 71.

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