Al Di Meola
Elegant Gypsy


4.5
superb

Review

by Matt Conrad USER (25 Reviews)
September 3rd, 2006 | 70 replies


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist


Jazz fusion is one of the many, many music gifts that Sputnik has bestowed upon me over the past few years. In that time, I've heard a myriad of bands and genres that have had an impact on me and the way I view music and those that create it. Perhaps more than any other type of music, jazz fusion has redefined my perception of everything that I've listened to up to this point. The album that started this reverence, you ask? Well, that would be guitar extraordinaire Al DiMeola's 1977 masterpiece, Elegant Gypsy.

What truly shines on this record is the varied, textured soundscapes presented with each track. There is an eclectic cohesion of styles at hand. The jaw-dropping flamenco acoustic guitar on 'Mediterranean Sundance' gives off an iridescent aura, one of a Greek coastal city basking in the sparse, pastel-purple light of the early evening. On the other hand, the opening bass line to the album’s lead track 'Flight Over Rio' could easily have been snaked into a Tool song, its dark effect pulsating through a chaparral scene of sound.

The instrumentation, as with many other jazz fusion groups, is nothing short of phenomenally top-notch. The shredding, abrasive guitar slithering through the album's best track and centerpiece 'Race With Devil on Spanish Highway' never misses a beat, never falters for a second. An interlude of faultless guitar and drum synching segues into a beautiful bass-driven groove as Al works exquisite magic with his instrument, for this track feature some of the best guitar tones you're likely to find in any variety of music. The entire rhythm section on 'Midnight Tango' are as prevalent as they are anonymous, perfectly complimenting one another, as well as with regards to DiMeola's wildly cascading guitar lead. Beauty unmatched abounds to no limit on the short but oh-so-sweet song 'Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil.' The dueling acoustic guitars lull one with the strength of a child's nursery rhyme, ultimately progressing into a relaxed, almost jam-like quality. The ambience given off by those guitars is unbelievable, as if the entire ensemble is present.

Another aspect of the album that I find pleasing is that no instrument overshadows another. Even with the production of the album, no singular player seems to be mixed louder or more prevalent than any other. An excellent example would be the final track, 'Elegant Gypsy Suite,' an uninhibited jam, a melting pot of numerous playing styles and genres stewed into quite the musical experience. The sound that is produced during this track is unique, with DiMeola throwing in some fabulous lead lines, alternating in speed to fit the ever-changing tempo and feel of the song. The track culminates in a final, spastic burst of sound. Somehow dissonant, this is a fitting end to an incredible album.

I, in all objective honesty, have absolutely no complaint regarding this album, music- or instrumentation-wise. Every single track is a glorious example of not only musical ability, but the knowledge of how music meshes with itself and different styles. To be quite honest, I was a little apprehensive at the fusion of my two favorite genres, rock and jazz. Elegant Gypsy has shown me, and I hope it shows you, that it is possible to create something moving, powerful, and seminal with two vastly different elements. All that is needed is the willingness and confidence to do so. Look at what has come out of it!

THE GOOD:
Every track is the definition of quality.
Some of the best instrumentation to be heard is featured on this album.
The music can really compliment any mood.

THE BAD:
It's entirely too short. Only six tracks?
'Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil' is only about a minute-and-a-half long. I feel that it could go on forever.

THE RATING:
4.5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Syncratic
September 3rd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice, short, and sweet.

Like 'Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil.'

Syncratic
September 3rd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cornucopia was the perfect word for it. I've been said to be too wordy in the past, but its something I just can't help. Thank you, though.

Syncratic
September 3rd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I see what you mean.

I think I'll change it to myriad.....maybe cornucopia wasnt' the right word.

La Revolucion
September 3rd 2006


1060 Comments


Great review. I've been meaning to look into Al DiMeola for awhile.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2006


16089 Comments


IT was a spiffy review, but this doesnt seem like something I would enjoy greatly.

Syncratic
September 3rd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Do it, you'll love it I'm sure.

La Revolucion
September 3rd 2006


1060 Comments


OK. Is this a good album to start off with, or are there ones that are better or slightly more accessible or something?

Syncratic
September 3rd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is the only one I've heard, so yeah, start here.

Zebra
Moderator
September 4th 2006


2647 Comments


I've been a fan of Dimeola's guitar work ever since I heard it in Return to Forever. This sounds really nice since his guitar playing is usually top notch.
Great review.

Syncratic
September 5th 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you very much!

Also...today's my 16th birthday!!!!!!!

Doppelganger
December 28th 2006


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. This album is just awesome all the way through.

Syncratic
December 28th 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Indeed.....Al Di's my new influence on guitar.

yas666eer
November 11th 2008


270 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I really really need this ...NOW

Anthracks
November 11th 2008


3744 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mediterranean Sundance is really amazing, but I haven't really listened to anything else off the album yet.

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

BrandNewBoognish
October 30th 2009


1021 Comments


downloading this now

Prophet178
October 30th 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good call, good call.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
July 26th 2011


16137 Comments


Album is serious jazz fists.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2011


16137 Comments


Nice. Long overdue for a bump.

InAbsentia
December 6th 2011


3542 Comments


The last time I heard this was probably about 6 years ago. I have to listen to it again.

seedofnothing
December 12th 2011


3425 Comments


so juicy



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