Al Di Meola: Land Of The Midnight Sun

The Songs:

  1. The Wizard
  2. Land Of The Midnight Sun
  3. Sarabande (from Bach’s Violin Sonata in B Minor)
  4. Love Theme From “Pictures Of The Sea”
  5. Suite: Golden Dawn (Morning Fire; Calmer Of The Tempests; From Ocean To The Clouds)
  6. Short Tales Of The Black Forest

Personnel:

  • Al Di Meola – electric & acoustic guitars, synthesizer, percussion, vocals
  • Mingo Lewis – keyboards, percussion (Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5)
  • Barry Miles – keyboards (Tracks 2, 5)
  • Chick Corea – piano, marimba (Track 6)
  • Anthony Jackson – bass (Tracks 1, 2)
  • Stanley Clarke – bass, vocals (Track 4)
  • Jaco Pastorius – bass (Track 5)
  • Steve Gadd – drums (Track 1)
  • Lenny White – drums (Track 2)
  • Alphonse Mouzon – drums (Track 5)
  • Patty Buyukas – vocals (Track 4)

Released in 1976, Land of the Midnight Sun was guitar legend Al Di Meola’s solo recording debut. It featured a “who’s who” of fusion jazz, including Jaco Pastorius and Alphonse Mouzon from Weather Report, studio veterans Anthony Jackson and Barry Miles, and all of Di Meola’s partners from Return to Forever: Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White, as well as former Return to Forever members Steve Gadd and Mingo Lewis.

Although Di Meola is often criticized as a one-dimensional technical player, this album reveals his wide range of musical interests and styles. It opens with Mingo Lewis’ “The Wizard” and Di Meola’s own title track, both of which recall his work with Return to Forever. A straight forward acoustic reading of the “Sarabande” from one of Bach’s Partitas and the vocal ballad “Pictures of the Sea” rounded out the original Side 1. The flip side featured bass phenomenon Jaco Pastorius on the complex “Golden Dawn Suite”, which also showcased some of Di Meola’s most fiery playing. The album ends with a duel between acoustic guitar and piano on Chick Corea’s “Short Tales of the Black Forest”, a tour-de-force performance from both players that resembled a chamber music duet. Di Meola’s subsequent recordings refined his electric , highly technical approach to playing and composing. He also explored acoustic performances, both as a soloist and in a trio with fellow guitar legends John McLaughlin and Paco De Lucia, world music, and even the tango music of Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla. However, with the exception of 1980’s Splendido Hotel, none of these albums showcase the guitarist in such a wide range of styles on a single album as did this debut effort. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Al Di Meola. Al Di Meola: Music • Words • Pictures

Suggested Viewing:

Speak Like A Volcano: Return To Electric Guitar

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