Interview: Al Di Meola
Frank Kuznik quizzes the American guitarist ahead of his May 11 Prague concert
Al Di Meola is a rarity among rock and jazz guitarists, a virtuoso player who is also a prolific composer and bandleader constantly venturing into new musical territory. After breaking out with the seminal jazz fusion group Return to Forever in the 1970s, he established himself as a formidable solo artist with a string of Latin-flavored albums. Subsequent collaborations with fellow guitar heroes Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin (on Friday Night in San Francisco) and bassist Stanley Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty (in the Rite of Strings trio) cemented his status as a superstar. Never content to linger in one genre, Di Meola became a devotee and close friend of Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla, and has been pioneering new directions in world music with his New World Sinfonia ensemble. Currently on tour in Europe and the Mideast, Di Meola answered questions about his upcoming Prague performance via email.
Your music has universal appeal -- this month alone, you're also playing in Spain, Norway, Germany, Israel, the UK and Korea. What do you think accounts for your worldwide popularity?
I made a name for myself as part of some great projects in the 1970s and '80s. So when I started doing my own recordings, they were loved worldwide. But this was at a time when records were far more important than they are now. The industry has changed so much that making it as a new artist today is virtually impossible.
You've been exploring a lot of different musical genres and composers. Is there a conscious agenda or direction that you're moving in, or do you just follow whatever interests develop naturally?
I think I'm strangely unique in that I follow nothing in any way that would be considered common sense. However, the end result of all these elements work, as they are instinctively my feelings, culminating with careful pacing throughout all the compositions.
How did your musical partnership with Gonzalo Rubalcaba develop?
I first heard Gonzalo's recordings 20 years ago in the States, when he had a fusion group in Cuba called Projecto. Then in the mid-'90s, we shared a bill together in Germany where we had the opportunity to jam at the end of my show. I invited him to participate on a couple of my recordings, which then led to our idea to do some duet shows together, and him being a special guest in my group New World Sinfonia.
What's it been like touring with him and playing as a duo?
It's been the most fun! No ego trip, like some other artists might have. Also, the dialogue we have is some of the best I've had as an artist in my life.
Do you and Gonzalo work from a set list, or do you lean more toward improv in concert?
We do it all, compositions mixed with way-out improvisation.
What can we expect to hear in Prague?
A lot of my compositions, and a Piazzolla piece or two as well.
What do you hope people will get from the concert?
Hopefully, a magical musical dialogue.
• Al Di Meola & Gonzalo Rubalcaba will be performing at the Rudolfinum's Dvořák hall (Dvořákova síň) on Friday, May 11, 2012 from 8pm. Tickets will be available from the Rudolfinum box office from 7pm
Video on YouTube
Opera Review: Krakatit by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Karel Čapek's novel predicting the nuclear arms race is also an opera
A Playdate With Marvelous Toys by Annie Friesen - Anglo American University (Foto: magnetický stůl - Ondrej Smeykal)
PLAY is open until June 30th @ Galerie Malostranská Beseda
National Gallery to be open over Easter by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: prague.eu)
All of the gallery buildings will be open Good Friday through Easter Monday
Cimrman set to conquer America by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The English version of a Jára Cimrman will be presented in the US for the first time
Through the Labyrinth of Normalization at Robert Guttmann Gallery by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The Jewish community was branded as an enemy of the state after the 1968 invasion
Architecture of the VII Day at Dox Centre by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Igor Snopek - DOX)
Church construction in Poland was a form of protest against the government
No Man looks at Stalin's sculpture by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
A modern music drama takes on the sculpture and its absence
In the Realm of Humans: Jaroslav Kučera’s Silent Dialogues by Markéta Hrehorová - Anglo American University (Foto: Roman Kelbich)
Exhibition running till 2. 4. 2017 @ Leica Gallery Prague
Eno's The Ship at Veletržní palác by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The installation is meant to be an ambient three-dimensional song
David Ives' All In The Timing at Kolowrat by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Seven short plays capture the feel of New York in the 1980s
English and RUssian language driving school in Prague
Translator and interpreter of the English language -...
Become a Good Angel!
Feel the rhythm and party to the biggest hits of the 80’s!
First diamonds museum in Prague
Trabant Museum @ STK Motol
Armádní muzeum Žižkov
Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády