AL DI MEOLA — Casino (review)

AL DI MEOLA — Casino album cover Album · 1978 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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.
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