• czb.ro
Zoom. Interviuri. Interviu EN

Al Di Meola. NOV.1.2011

Al Di Meola. NOV.1.2011 ClickZoomBytes (CZB) was not alloted separate time for an interview, so we went out to the press conference, hoping to get in all the questions we wanted to ask. Our luck is of course ... there is NO music press in Cluj-Napoca. The young Bloggers don't care about artists such as Al Di Meola (it's not in their target group) and the seven local newspapers in Cluj-Napoca simply don't have specific columns constantly dedicated to the local music scene or music events in the city. Radio stations never send reps to the press conferences (almost all such stations have their programming transmitted via satellite from our capital city) and the TV crews (three were present) rcorded the whole thing for final one-minute news edits, without asking any questions themselves.

For this reason, CZB not only got answers to all the questions we prepared for the event, but we also won the courtesy of the special guest.


Of Italian origin, Al Di Meola (born Al Laurence Dimeola on July 22, 1954 in Jersey City, New Jersey) is an acclaimed American Jazz Fusion and Latin guitarist, composer, and record producer. He is a four-time Best Jazz Guitarist Award winner in the Guitar Player Magazine's Reader Poll. With a musical career spanning more than three decades, he is considered one of the most influential guitarists in Jazz.


RiCo for CZB: What impact did Woodstock have on you as a teenager?

Al Di Meola: Woodstock? Woodstock??

Let me show you (takes out his iPhone and searches for film footage to show the crowd) ... boy, you asked the best question right off the bat ... this is Woodstock (shows iPhone screen to press people).

Mircea Buteanu (event organizer, Diesel Events): That's Janis Joplin!

Al Di Meola: Well, it's the whole movie really. I happen to have the Woodstock movie on my phone, because it was the most incredible time period in music. I mean I was only 15 at the time and I wanted to go to Woodstock. It was only two and a half hours away from where I was living with my parents and my father says: No, no, you can't go with all those hippies. So I was really devastated I couldn't go, because I was really at that time influenced by a lot of this music and I was going to New York City quite a lot, which is close to where I live and I saw a lot of these shows. So, Woodstock was this great festival which became something bigger than anyone thought. It was just an amazing time; in fact, that's why I have the movie on here, because when I go back to looking at it it's nostalgically amazing and rewarding to see it. In fact, two nights ago, in Milan, I got to meet David Crosby and Graham Nash (from Crosby, Stills and Nash) and we talked for about an hour and a half about that and many other things, so it was like reconnecting to that period. It was a very, very creative time that never existed before, you know, that 60's period, into the early 70's, that doesn't exist today, because it was the most amazing and very creative change in music ... so that was the best question ever.


CZB: How did you discover Astor Piazzola and how did you become pen pals?

Al Di Meola: I met Astor Piazzola in 1984. We were at the same festivals together and I heard a lot about him, although I had not yet listened to his music. When I met him and his band, they were really happy to meet me, because they knew my music very well – and the feeling amongst them towards me was almost like a long lost friend or relative, so I immediately liked them to the point where I wanted to discover what they were doing musically, so while I was at the hotel, I asked Larry Bird (who was a special guest soloist for Astor Piazzola), and I asked him what he thought of the music, what it was all about, whether he liked it ... and he said that for him it was the hardest music he had ever played in his life. Due to that, I had a tremendous curiosity to check it out, so from that point, Astor Piazzola and I were talking a lot. He was very, very warm and friendly and promised that he would send me some music, which he did – and in fact we wrote letters to one another - and in the course of that time he had sent me some compositions he had written for me and that was the beginning of the drastic change in my career. That music from was the most pivotal change in my conception of music because prior to that, music was purely a fusionistic, technical kind of music but Astor Piazzola had all of that plus the intensity of emotion in music that connected here (pointing to his heart), not just here (pointing to his heead) and that's something that didn't exit in jazz. Most jazz is purely intellectual and technical. There was a certain sentimentality to the music written by Piazzola that was connecting to the wide range of emotions of the heart. That appealed to me because it was where I wanted to go with my music and my writing. That is why Astor Piazzola became a kind of guru for me.


CZB: How long did you work with Frank Zappa?

Al Di Meola: That was just a day... He called me a night before and he says (imitating him in a deep, gruff voice): This is Frank Zappa; I wrote this song for you. I want you to come and play at the show tomorrow night in New York, down at the Ritz Theater. So I said, sure, why not?

I went to the soundcheck and he had this music written and we played the piece Clownz on Velvet together. That was it.


CZB: What year was that in?

Al Di Meola: 1980 or 81.


Byte. We found the track collaboration on YouTube

(Frank Zappa & Al Di Meola. The Ritz. NYC. 11/17/1981)


CZB: Many artists work hard and only dream of playing Carnegie some day. You got to play there when you were only 19. What was the feeling like when you first stepped on-stage at Carnegie Hall?

Al Di Meola: I don't know. I was taking a lot of drugs that my mother gave me for nervousness. It's true. I was so scared ... but I remember the music stands were this high (lifts right hand four feet up in the air, well above seated hight of head) and I would peek out at the audience, so I was really petrified and stiff.

Whoever thought ...

I was a musician in Boston and I had come home after I got a call from Chick Corea.

So I packed a bag and I told my girlfriend I would be missing a few days from school. She asked me: Well, where are you going? So I said, Well, I'm going to play Carnegie Hall in two days... So no one believed it, not even my parents.

I got home and opened the door and my dad asked me: What are you doing home from school?

I said I was going to play Carnegie Hall. Father's: No you're not! Go on; get outta here.

I said, Dad, I'm playing Carnegie Hall...

(a moment of silence)

So it's kind of like a dream beyond a dream. I never thought that would happen to me... and that was the beginning. That was like a Tour I would be getting on, so that was like the first of many other shows [playing with Chick Corea's Return to Forever].


CZB: Going to a music college is not the same thing with jamming with seasoned professionals. From your experience, what is your view on that?

Al Di Meola: I thing you do only a certain amount of learning on your own and a certain amount at school but the stage is where you get to utilize the tools of practicing. So the combination, especially playing with musicians who motivate you and inspire you to do more is a great thing. Playing with Chick Corea when I was 19 catapulted me and made me work harder to get better faster – and then a few years later I did the thing with Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin. That was a whole other thing because that was so successful because it was three guys that were popular at the time in their own idiom coming together. Paco de Lucia was the unique one there, because he was coming from far away in the Flamenco world. So, it made it interesting how we were going to collaborate and challenge one another... and it was really a creative challenge because we were playing for one another, not for the audience. We were playing to outdo one another. So there was one outstanding guitar solo and then the next guy was doing something that was at least as good as that, so we had worked hard and it was a creative competition that proved to be a really good experience with the audience at that time.


CZB: How did that happen though? How did you get together with Paco de Lucia who is from Spain and John McLaughlin who is from England?

Al Di Meola: Three years before the first tour together, for the formation of it, I had invited Paco de Lucia to play on my second record, Elegant Gipsy (1971) and the success of that piece, Mediterranean Sundance, Paco and I had discussed the possibility of someday touring, so it was kind of a thing that we were talking about but it wasn't until the former manager of Paul McCartney ... before he started with Paul McCartney, the first big thing he did was forming that trio out of London – and it was huge. We did a two-month tour and in the second month we started recording the shows and it was really the last two shows in San Francisco that were the best, but after two months, with our jobs being very good, that turned into an album (Friday Night in San Francisco) that sold four million records. That was something that people all over Europe, in particular, are still very fond of.



CZB: What were you doing when you found out about 9/11 and how did you feel about this tragic moment in time?

Al Di Meola: I was really very close to where it happened and I remember my secretary calling, waking me up and saying, “It turns out a small plane hit the World Trade Center”. SO I woke up, turned on the TV, and I saw the whole building and immediately I said, “They're not going to be able to fix that! It's far too huge. They can't fix that.” And then immediately, the news was just coming and coming ...

It was the most awful thing to see, because no one really predicted anything as horrible as that. Of course, an hour later, it could have been 10,000 people – because it was still well before most people got to their jobs at the building.

Ahhh, I don't know, you know... I think our going into Iraq... I think the president felt he had to blame somebody ... lets go after someone – anyone – to get even, and it was really a tremendous mistake going into Iraq – also Afghanistan. So ... (stops to think) I'm not even sure that Osama Bin Laden was the guy, the mastermind behind that – but I know that a lot of money and a lot of lives have been lost. It's awful.

What did you think about it?

RiCo for CZB: I was completely shocked; I thought I was watching a movie.

Al Di Meola: You know, not even in a movie could they think of something as horrible as that. Think about it. You would imagine in a movie: a plane hitting a building - but the building coming down like this (shows a flat open palm falling straight down from above his head to blow his knees as he's sitting on his chair). No one, even in Hollywood, could think that that's possible.

So it was really something to have lived through a period of time when something like that occurred.

It also makes one question how people interpret the Koran, how they read into this ... that they find that this is justification for getting even ... so it's an ongoing thing.

So, take the Palestinians versus the Israelis ... which will never–ever stop.

I think that's going to be the case with this as well. The only problem I have with it is that we're in a war with the wrong people. So that breeds more animosity towards the US.

Anyway, when it comes to music and the arts, if we didn't have music and arts in the midst of all this world chaos, whether it be wars or financial crises or whatever affects our personal lives, we would go crazy as a society.

I think we have to be thankful for the Arts because they give us some sense of sanity.

RiCo for CZB: Music brings people together.

Al Di Meola: What I mean though is that Music breathes a certain sense of fulfillment amidst a difficult life.


CZB: Being white and Italian, was it difficult being accepted by the colored Jazz community?

Al Di Meola: Oh yeah, if you keep in mind when I started, especially with playing the electric guitar – the traditional people – the musicians. They didn't like the influences of rock meeting jazz...

Although I did meet Miles Davis once... it was like this (turns around in his chair, imitating how Miles Davis shakes hands with him half-turned around and looking in another direction) ... and Dizzie Gillespie.

A CZB Interview by RiCo



Amongst questions other local press people put (along the lines of What do you like most about Romania? or How do you like Romanian food?), an interesting answer was given regarding the impact of new media on music. Al Di Meola notes that Music is not being consumed at the rate it was a few decades ago. Before, when you got in the car, it was about listening to music. Before, when you got home from work, it was about listening to music. Now, you get home and check your mailbox or get in the car and watch something on your iPod or send SMSes.

Al Di Meola also notes the lack of concentration proven by young artists in the studio these days. The young musicians just aren't 100% in the studio. They take lots of breaks to check their emails, to upload cuts from the studio on youtube and soundcloud or write their impressions on twitter or a blog... The whole scene just isn't working like it used to.




Al Di Meola is currently promoting The New World Sinfonia (acordeon: Fausto Beccalossi; acoustic guitar: Peo Afonsi; percussions: Gumbi Ortiz) and his new album Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody (released in March 2011)

This weekend (November 4-5) he's in Athens (at the Acropolis Theater).

The following are his tourdates for the end of 2011

  • 11/08/2011 - DRESDEN, GERMANY - HELLERAU - DUO
  • 11/22/2011 - ISTANBUL, TURKEY - IS SANAT
  • 11/25/2011 - CLEON, FRANCE - LA TRAVERSE
  • 12/17/2011 - SUBOTICA, SERBIA - TBA
  • 12/18/2011 - SZEGED, HUNGARY - TBA
Facebook Twitter MySpace  

Lasa un comentariu: (max. 1800 caractere)

Nume:   Antispam:  

Niciun comentariu!

Articole relative:

Torstein Parelius (NO)
Torstein Parelius (NO)...
Publicat in: 14.08.2017, Ora: 14:41PM
Walking Rumor (DK)
Walking Rumor (DK) ...
Publicat in: 01.03.2017, Ora: 06:53AM
Sinoptik (UA)
Sinoptik (UA)...
Publicat in: 22.02.2017, Ora: 06:27AM
Vorbid (NO)
Vorbid (NO)...
Publicat in: 15.02.2017, Ora: 13:59PM
Publicat in: 14.08.2016, Ora: 12:20PM
Publicat in: 04.03.2019, Ora: 06:18AM
Woodstock 50 may go global
Woodstock 50 may go global...
Publicat in: 21.03.2016, Ora: 06:16AM
2016.APR.23. Roberto Fonseca în premieră la Cluj
2016.APR.23. Roberto Fonseca în premi...
Publicat in: 01.03.2016, Ora: 06:13AM
Al Di Meola is returning to Europe
Al Di Meola is returning to Europe...
Publicat in: 28.09.2015, Ora: 06:39AM
2015.AUG.14. AL DI MEOLA la Opera Română Cluj-Napoca
2015.AUG.14. AL DI MEOLA la Opera Rom...
Publicat in: 07.08.2015, Ora: 09:28AM
Acasa | Contact | Disclaimer | Blog | RSS Feed • CLICKZOOMBYTES © 2010-2019 • Revista De Muzica Online