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on 31 October 2000
Al has produced some of the finest music I have ever listened to, and with this latest offering from the World Sinfonia group, there is a maturity to the compositions which is mesmerizing. The players, all master musicians in their own right, including the amazing Hernan Romero and Mario Parmisano, add an almost 3-dimensional feel to the whole CD, and the orchestral arrangements, penned by Al & Mario have thrown a whole new light on things... Truly one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear..... I was lucky enough to see some of these songs performed in New York's Blue Note back in March this year...and the recording has captured the intimate feel of the live performance with grace and precision.....
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 December 2009
I've owned and very much liked this album for a few years now. But after reviewing Al's beautiful Christmas album, Winter Nights [IMPORT], a week or so ago, I happened to give this another spin and it has gone on to become the constant soundtrack of my last few days, it having got under my skin like a heavenly septicaemia. I must confess to having to play it only when alone, because there are moments in it which bring a guaranteed lump to my throat and make my eyes crinkle. I've got quite a few of Al's discs, all of which have given me pleasure in no small degree. And, make no mistake, I love his fierce and fiery electric soloing work. But I have come to realise now that, with the acoustic work he does with his World Sinfonia, I find myself succumbing to something of overwhelming emotional depth and intensity. It is a music that transcends the tiresome categories that allow music to be discussed and compared, but also to be boxed and marketed. This music is not jazz, not fusion, certainly not rock. If it must have a category then I guess it is World music in the very best sense of the word. So, although it is clearly based in particular ethnic idioms, and here we're talking deep Latin, from Flamenco to Piazolla inspired Tango, those idioms simply provide a platform from which to launch off into entirely undiscovered musical spaces. Al is a master, and he has assembled around himself a prodigious group of masters, and in these acoustic discs we hear his mastery consummated in music making of the most disciplined competence and exalted vision.

I am a guitarist myself, with a bent towards improvisation, so I'm rather partial to the music of the best practitioners of that art. Curiously, when enumerating my pantheon, which includes the likes of Metheny, Holdsworth and McLaughlin, I find myself holding off from including Al, although I love his music as much as that of any of the other fellahs on that list. This is because, as a soloist, despite his obviously formidable chops, he does not seem to be pursuing the lines of open-ended innovation that my very favourites do. He is not so deeply engaged in the exploration of the strange chromatic scales and systems as those other guys. He seems to be happy to operate in and around the handful of modes that are closer to his Latino-Iberian points of departure. But, where I find I have to credit Al, with maybe an edge on those other names, is as a composer and arranger. What Al has in super-abundance, it seems to me, is elegance and, as they used to say, sheer class. The other guys explore strange new and interesting places but, although their soloing always reliably strives towards maximum excellence, they are not immune to getting it just plain wrong in the compositional department, from time to time. Perhaps too many or inappropriate repeats or lopsided forms. Not quite smooth enough transitions, or whatever. But Al, is a real grown up guy. His composition are always perfectly formed; never too short or too long; drama never degrades to melodrama; romance never rolls over into mere kitsch; repetition is imbued with enough variation to sustain interest beyond the first couple of listens. Oh, and such beautiful arrangements.

On the Amazon classical music forum there has been a certain amount of, sometimes heated, discussion over whether music that isn't classical music, in the conservatoire, notated sense, can ever be considered serious, on the same level as the high-brow art variety. For my money this is one of those albums that amply demonstrates that the very best of ~(not)classical music is equivalent, by any musical value you care to nominate, to the very best of classical music. This is music so passionate, so beautiful and so elegant as to be deadly, and it resonates so profoundly with such universal human values that it will not date, or age, or be withered by fashion. This music of Al's is out there with the very best of things that spring from human minds.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 December 2014
'The Grande Passion' is perhaps one of Al Di Meola's most considered and musically diverse albums. As a result it is also one of his most satisfying releases and therefore carries its own very weighty recommendation. Playing, composition, arrangements and production are of all of a high order. The band are likewise superb. The music is very much of the Tango / Cuban orientation, sometimes highly rhythmic whilst at others, relaxed and meditative, but always engaging and never without a thrill or two.

What is most pleasing about 'The Grande Passion' is that Al has learned to place his guitar as a part of the arrangement, helping to suggest mood or melody. There are incredible solos aplenty but they exist to add excitement but not overly divert the listener from the main action. Often on previous albums the tunes existed to highlight Al's incredibly accomplished picking, a ploy that soon tires the listener out if over used. Try 'Opus in Green' or ‘Libertango’, like them and you'll love this album, as I do. Enjoy.
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on 26 October 2014
A different Al Di Meola compared to late 1970s and through 1980s. Exiting ensamble music, actually a small orchestra - instrumental (non-electronic). A kind of modern classic latin with a dash of 'fusion jazz', expertly delivered as allways. Something of its own. Try out
'Double Conserto' on YouTube, and you will experience how good this album is.
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