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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas again, 21 Dec. 2009
By 
John Ferngrove (Hants UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Winter Nights [IMPORT] (Audio CD)
I'm a big fan of Al's work, owning quite a few of his albums, but this is a whole special side of him, and I'm guessing a labour of love from a family man. In my household, putting up the Christmas tree and decorations is a hubbie job, and this will probably be the dozenth year in a row that I have carried out those tasks accompanied by this special favourite. It is an entirely acoustic album, at least as far as the ear can tell. Opposite Al's exquisitely tasteful guitar work is the Bandura of Roman Hrynkiv, which is a plucked instrument, native to the Ukraine, with a timbre somewhere between that of a harp and a harpsichord, and however the thing is played the fellah is obviously a master of it. The percussionist, Hernan Romero provides appropriately subtle rhythmic support, and some extra guitar lines. The album showcases Di Meola's immense talent as a guitarist arranger, usually overshadowed on other works by his fierce and fiery soloing talents. All that is set aside for this album. What soloing there is, is lyrical in intent, and is there to complement the texture rather than dominate it. The album is pretty, charming and sparkles the way Christmas music should, but it is not remotely saccharine or schmaltzy, because it is music making of the highest order from start to finish. More immediately recognisable hi-lights are arrangements of Scarborough Fayre, Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and an Ave Maria evidently by Gounod that everyone will just immediately know, without knowing where they know it from. An arguable best is a gut wrenchingly pretty arrangement of Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street. Be assured however, the album has been crafted to be a seamlessly integrated whole of unbroken beauty, without a dud or unseemly moment from beginning to end. This is the only overtly Christmas album I own, and is the only one that a lover of serious music should need.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS WITH AL., 10 Feb. 2004
By 
Örn Leifsson (Reykjavik Iceland.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Nights (Audio CD)
What!! A Christmas album by DiMeola!!
I must admit I was a bit sceptical at first because so many Jazz/Fusion artist have made overly sweet and sentimental Christmas albums, but of course I shouldn't have doupted the master, this album is really good.
Al playes acoustic guitars on the album along with percussion, keyboards and a multi string harp. Herman Romero plays additional guitar and percussion and then there is a player from Ukraine, Roman Hrynkiv who playes an ukrainian instrument called Bandura which is a plucked string instrument with a bright sound which fits this music wery well.
The music is a mix of well known Christmas songs and new compositions by DiMeola, there is of course a Christmas feel to the album but it's all in great taste and underneath the calm surface Al is burning.
Not a C.D. to play all year round but around Christmas this is definitely great fun, musicaly speaking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful Christmas album without the schmaltz, 22 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Winter Nights (Audio CD)
From the first track 'Zima' (a kind of up-tempo Spanish guitar/winter song) you realise that this is not going to be a typical Christmas album, despite the inclusion of a number of traditional and modern yuletide standards ranging from 'Carol of the Bells' to 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.
Accompanying di Meola on this album is Roman Hrynkiv, a Ukranian musician who plays the bandura (a Ukranian folk instrument) and whose style of playing has a really magical quality to it which is perfect for this type of music. Al di Meola describes Hrynvik's playing as 'captivating' and I can only agree.
A number of pieces get the di Meola work over including 'Scarborough Fair' and Peter Gabriel's 'Mercy Street', but it is his jazz version of 'Greensleeves' which works best and which is most impressive. Added to this are a couple of traditional carols including 'The First Noel', a few original compositions, and a number of short 'Winterlude Duets' involving di Meola and Hrynvik.
A perfect musical accompaniment to Christmas and one that will definitely be played on numerous occasions in my own house over the holidays.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than Christmas carols, 22 Dec. 2012
By 
P. Symonds - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Nights [IMPORT] (Audio CD)
Have loved Al since Elegant Gypsy back in the 70s. Bought this unheard based on reviews and was not disappointed. Beautiful atmospheric music for anytime, not just Christmas. Fluid, intelligent playing with passion but not the frenetic intensity of some of his other work. Very accessible for non jazz fans too. Buy it.
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Winter Nights [IMPORT]
Winter Nights [IMPORT] by Al Di Meola (Audio CD - 2008)
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