The audience exploded as soon as the opening bass vamp of “Flight Over Rio” began and the blistering chops commenced.
  • The audience exploded as soon as the opening bass vamp of “Flight Over Rio” began and the blistering chops commenced.
  • Image by Manuel Cruces Camberos
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Jazz-rock guitarist Al Di Meola brought his Romantic Warrior Meets Elegant Gypsy Tour to the Music Box for a standing-room-only exercise in fusion nostalgia that leaned heavily on crowd favorites.

Di Meola’s concept has always required tight arrangements, and his band, especially long-time cohorts Phillipe Saisse on keyboards and Gumbi Ortiz on Afro-Cuban percussion, were able to shadow the guitarist with precision and attention to dynamics.

Video:

"Elysium"

...title track off of Al Di Meola's latest record

...title track off of Al Di Meola's latest record

Although the concert began with a new piece, the audience exploded as soon as the opening bass vamp of “Flight Over Rio” began and the blistering chops commenced. Especially entertaining was the conga solo, which quoted “Smoke on the Water” and “Oye Como Va,” before Di Meola playfully motioned for a stoppage.

After connecting with a few standards from the Return to Forever catalog, Di Meola delighted the house with an acoustic mini-set that climaxed with a beautiful reading of Paul McCartney’s “Black Bird,” which really showcased his mastery of intricate, moving harmonies and subtle phrasing.

The full band returned for a surprising hit on Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” reviving the speed-demon aesthetic that rocketed unabated toward the encore, “Race With the Devil on Spanish Highway.” Thunderous applause ensued.

  • Concert: Al Di Meola
  • Date: June 16
  • Venue: Music Box
  • Seats: Front row, aisle
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