AL DI MEOLA — Casino

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AL DI MEOLA - Casino cover
3.37 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1978

Filed under Fusion
By AL DI MEOLA

Tracklist

A1 Egyptian Danza 5:58
A2 Chasin The Voodoo 5:02
A3 Dark Eye Tango 5:25
B1 Senor Mouse 7:19
B2 Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars (Viva La Danzarina; Guitars Of The Exotic Isle; Rhapsody Italia; Bravoto Fantasia) 5:13
B3 Casino 9:33

Line-up/Musicians

Bass – Anthony Jackson (tracks: A1 to B1, B3)
Congas, Bongos – Mingo Lewis (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B3)
Drums – Steve Gadd (tracks: A1 to B1, B3)
Guitar,Mandolin (B2), Percussion (B2) – Al Di Meola
Keyboards – Barry Miles (tracks: A1 to B1, B3)
Timbales, Percussion – Eddie Colon (B3)

About this release

Columbia – PC 35277(US)

Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York

Thanks to snobb for the updates

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AL DI MEOLA CASINO reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

dreadpirateroberts
Is there anything wrong with this one? Not really no. It seems to take a bit of beating in some circles, but the formula is about the same and the songwriting has improved again. Di Meola sounds a little more relaxed here, less keen to prove his speed and daring - though he has not exactly slowed down either.

Opening 'Casino' is 'Egyptian Danza' with a suitably themed flourish from the keys before the song builds up to familiar territory, where the band summon up a kind of approaching sandstorm or some other calamity beneath the pyramids perhaps? Mid way in there's even some overdubbed hand claps before the song explodes again.

It's a standout first few tracks, from the pounding 'Chasin' the Voodoo' to the languid 'Dark Eyed Tango' (with some of the more considered soloing from Di Meola on the album.) 'Senor Mouse' is a more flowing affair, almost playful at times. It leads into another acoustic showpiece, which is nice enough but doesn't grip me like his previous or future acoustic pieces do. The title track is a longer exploration of similar themes and phrasing from the rest of the album and also doesn't feel as effective as material elsewhere on the album.

Very nearly four stars, but not quite. It's a good record, and I don't regret owning it, but his previous two albums are more enjoyable overall, even with a fantastic first side to 'Casino.'

Members reviews

Miler72
I can understand why I stayed away from Al Di Meola solo albums, but looking back, this is a prime example not to judge a book by its cover. 1978's Casino is his third solo album, which sports such a tasteless cover you may expect some horrific lounge jazz/fuzak, but I am happy to say it's nothing of the sort. He continues on the same Latin/flamenco fusion he explored on Elegant Gypsy, so that means if you like that album, you'll have no problem with Casino, although I don't feel the album really brings anything new to the table that he didn't already do on Elegant Gypsy. A good deal of the album bears more than a passing resemblance to Santana, I guess Di Meola was inspired by albums like Caravanserai, Welcome and Borboletta enough to record albums in a somewhat similar style. While I enjoy those Santana albums, I tend to have problems with some of the vocal songs, and Al Di Meola avoids that problem by making it all instrumental (although Land of the Midnight Sun did feature one vocal track, it was surprisingly nice). "Fantasia for Two Guitars" is one of those all-flamenco guitar pieces he tends to include on his albums, but the rest of the album has various help from various musicians, including Mingo Lewis, who, unsurprisingly played in Santana. There's also a version of Chick Corea's "Senor Mouse", which a version was recorded by Return to Forever off their 1973 album Hymns of the Seventh Galaxy. The RTF version naturally didn't feature Di Meola's guitar playing, but instead Bill Connors. Still this version is quite recognizable, but I imagine RTF performing this piece live quite a bit with Di Meola on board. At first I was a bit dismissive of Casino, but gave it another listen and found it actually an excellent album and worth having if you enjoy Latin fusion.
Sean Trane
ADM’s third solo album, Casino, is the last I’ll consider as excellent, although it is clear his future albums will not lack good moments. Indeed, Casino even won some kind of music awards in some mag, In this album, he’s backed by his former bandleader Barry Miles (ADM had played with them before getting a call from Chick Corea to join up RTF), percussion greats Mingo Lewis and Steve Gadd. One of the new twist is that the foursome form a real band with Mingo Lewis even allowed a song.

From the opening notes of Egyptian Danza, you just know that ADM’s fusion songwriting just climbed up another step, as the intense tight Latino/Spanish jazz-rock, that sounds a bit less Santana-esque than on the previous two albums. The excellent Mingo-penned Chasin’ The Voodoo has obviously also some Santana feel, but this is even more understandable when thinking of Lewis’s previous journey. The band is obviously very much used to playing together and aside one track, the album glides effortlessly cruising from clichéd Dark Eye Tango to the blistering Corea-penned Senor Mouse (probably the stronger track with Egyptian Danza) and the rather overlong title track finale.

One of the more irritating side of ADM is his aesthetically unhealthy love affair with Flamenco, a style in which he obviously pales in comparison with the masters of the genre (including the famous trio with DeLucia and McLaughlin), and his Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars absolutely fails to convince me, much the same way the UK-US group Carmen tried a few years earlier.

Aside this relative faux-pas, Casino is an excellent album that is very worthy of its two predecessor, even if by now, the Flamenco/Santana influences are a little worn to the thread. But Casino is certainly at least worth Midnight Sun and Gypsy, so I’d have a hard time choosing one or even two of the three!

Ratings only

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  • historian9
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