Al Di Meola

Jazz fusion and world music virtuoso shares the origins of his muting technique

By David Sands
August 1, 2018

Al Di Meola is one of those players whose name looms high over the guitar playing world. A jazz fusion phenom also known for his embrace of a variety of world music styles, he’s earned three gold records, sold six million albums and is a long-time favorite in the polls with both critics and readers. After a short stint at the Berklee College of Music in the early 1970s, he rose to fame playing with Return to Forever, a Chick Corea-led outfit also featuring Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. The three albums he recorded with them marked the peak of the quartet’s commercial success. Following that, Di Meola embarked on a successful solo career, releasing classics like Land of the Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy and Casino that showed him bringing a Latin touch to his fusion offerings. Since the formation of his pan-global group World Sinfonia in 1991, he’s continued to engage with world music traditions, exploring the musical legacies of flamenco, Middle Eastern, African, Latin American and other styles in his work. Beyond his solo work, Di Meola has also played several high-profile ensembles, including The Guitar Trio with Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin and Rite of Strings with Stanley Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Over the course of his his career he’s released more than 20 albums, the most recent of which is 2018’s Opus.

Following a recent concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan, FGPO’s Jon Liebman spoke with Di Meola about his classic works, muting technique and why he’s not into tapping, among other subjects.

Watch our interview with Al!

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