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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Consequence of Chaos

Telarc CD 83649



1. San Marco (Moderna)
2. Turquoise
3. Odyssey
4. Tao
5. Azucar
6. Sanctuary
7. Hypnose
8. Red Moon
9. Cry For You
10. Just Three Words
11. Tempest
12. Storm Off-Shore
13. Black Pearls
14. Africana Suite
15. San Marco (Vecchio)
Al Di Meola – Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, percussion, cymbals, dumbek, floor toms
Mario Parmisano – Piano, keyboards (tracks 1, 4, 7, 8, 11, 13)
John Patitucci – Acoustic bass, bass guitar (tracks 1, 2, 5, 13, 15)
Steve Gadd – Drums (tracks 1, 5)
Ernie Adams – Drums, percussion (track 1, 4, 7, 8, 11)
Gumbi Ortiz – Congas (tracks 1, 5, 7, 8, 11)
Barry Miles – Piano, keyboards, marimba (tracks 2, 4, 5, 13, 15)
Victor Miranda – Bass guitar, baby upright bass (tracks 4, 7, 8, 11)
Chick Corera – Piano (tracks 8, 9)
Kornel Horvath – Udo, gato drum, shaker (track 14)

Al Di Meola’s new CD is a bit of a puzzle. It proclaims proudly in a sticker on the front of the box that this is "a return to his solid-body electric guitar" but he also plays acoustic guitar and several other instruments on the album. On four tracks he even plays all the instruments himself, although the longest of these lasts only just over two minutes, making them insubstantial interludes rather than complete tunes.

Many of the tracks give the impression of soundtrack music for a film (perhaps set in Latin America or Mexico) rather than jazz outings. There’s a Spanish tinge to several items, with strong hints of flamenco, but it’s difficult to distinguish melodies in the midst of what sounds like a lot of doodling – technically brilliant doodling, undoubtedly, but tending towards self-indulgence. The presence of Chick Corea on a couple of tracks brightens things up considerably, with Red Moon coming across as the sort of thing Corea might have written when Al was his guitarist in Return to Forever in the mid-seventies. Cry for You is a delicate duet between Al’s acoustic guitar and Chick’s piano.

Elsewhere, Barry Miles (one of Al’s early employers) almost overshadows the leader with some fascinating work on the piano – for example, in Turqoise, where the piano lines seem more substantial than the guitar. Mario Parmsiano, a member of Al’s regular band, is also no mean pianist, coping effectively with demands for Corea-like dexterity.

My uncertainty about this disc is reflected in the album title. Is the unfocused nature of the album a consequence of chaos? Parts of it certainly sound chaotic. Or is it just a guitar hero doing whatever he wants? After several hearings, I remain bewildered.

Tony Augarde


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