AL DI MEOLA — Elegant Gypsy

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AL DI MEOLA - Elegant Gypsy cover
4.22 | 40 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1977

Filed under Fusion


A1 Flight Over Rio 7:10
A2 Midnight Tango 6:14
A3 Mediterranean Sundance 5:07
B1 Race With Devil On Spanish Highway 6:15
B2 Lady Of Rome, Sister Of Brazil 1:44
B3 Elegant Gypsy Suite 9:12


Acoustic Guitar – Paco De Lucía (tracks: A3)
Bass Guitar – Anthony Jackson (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B3)
Congas, Synthesizer [Arp Odyssey], Sequenced By [Arp Sequencer], Percussion, Organ – Mingo Lewis (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B3)
Drums – Lenny White (tracks: A2, B1), Steve Gadd (tracks: A1, B3)
Guitar [Electric], Acoustic Guitar, Castanets, Maracas, Synthesizer [Arp, Arp Strong Ensemble], Timbales, Piano [Acoustic], Percussion – Al Di Meola
Piano [Electric], Piano [Acoustic], Synthesizer [Mini Moog] – Barry Miles (tracks: A2, B1)
Piano [Electric], Synthesizer [Mini Moog] – Jan Hammer (tracks: A1, B3)

About this release

Columbia – PC 34461 (US)

Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

For 'Elegant Gypsy,' Di Meola carries a similar line-up over from his first album and produces a more consistent record. While it follows a similar pattern in structure and sequencing, it's more satisfying overall. If the songs are much the same texture-wise, using percussion, a tight rhythm section and speed-driven guitar work, along with often atmospheric keys - it's no surprise that he choose to refine the successful sound from 'Land of the Midnight Sun.'

After the steady opening of 'Flight Over Rio' with its nice tempo shift in the middle, we have the more contemplative 'Midnight Tango' which is probably the highlight of the album. Smooth but still surprising, it's graced with evocative solos from both guitar and piano, and seems to be a step forward in arrangement for Di Meola. Here he gives the song a lot of space, choosing his moments on electric guitar carefully, while also incorporating more acoustic playing.

'Mediterranean Sundance' continues the acoustic theme - in the form of a duet between flamenco legend Paco de Lucía and Di Meola. It's stunning (and I do have a soft spot for flamenco guitar) perhaps not simply for their dazzling fretwork but the way it so effortlessly brings Spanish imagery to mind, it's one of those pieces (a little like 'Lady of Rome...') that transports your mind. While it would be revisited and expanded years later on Friday Night in San Francisco, this version is still wonderful.

Following the duet is 'Race With Devil on Spanish Highway' a menacing track that features drummer Lenny White's second fine performance on the album, and one that again displays the speed we've come to expect from Di Meola by now. 'Elegant Gypsy Suite' is a little more of a mid-tempo piece and a satisfying conclusion to the album, its bass and key sound hinting at material that would be covered on Meola's follow up 'Casino.'

Another fantastic album of Latin Jazz fusion, four stars.

Members reviews

Al Di Meola uses Spanish and Latin musical influences to provide a texture to this expansive exploration of his guitar skills. To my ears, it's a pleasant but not brilliant listen, and I think this might partially because it's very much a product of its time; the Latin-flavoured fusion approach here had already become pretty tired at the hands of Santana and since then has become very well-explored, and the production quality feels dated to me even though I imagine if you listened to it at the time it would have felt very modern. On top of that, I just don't find Al's guitar playing very revolutionary, and I'm sure that's because a million and one guitarists have taken up his ideas and popularised them, but I've already heard those other guitarists and I (and most music listeners my age) can't un-hear them before coming to this album.
Sean Trane
Second solo album by the Italian-origined American guitarist who had a strong Spanish desire, Elegant Gypsy is usually regarded as his best solo album, even if this writer begs to differ! Indeed, EG draws on the same kind of fusion jazz-rock of Return To Forever, crossed with Santana’s better moments (from Caravanserai to Borboletta) and Mahavishnu Orchestra’s first period. Graced with a typical tasteless romantic late 70’s artwork (the disastrous and fantasy of Gypsy women portrayed by Carmen the group), Stevie Nicks, the Wilson sisters of Heart and more), this album is nevertheless a real strong outing, although a bit too close to the previous Midnight Sun.

Flight over Rio cannot escape comparison with Santana, mostly due to the Latin-fusion percussions, but ADM’s guitar tone is a bit too resembling also. Midnight Tango starts out well enough, but by mid-track it can’t escape a cheesy fondue moments that lasts the rest of the track, until an atrocious (well ill-advised) pzercussion solo, that’s been done better elsewhere. Mediterranean Sundance is a Flamenco piece, where ADM tries to impress (he gets by), but obviously is nowhere Paco DeLucia. I’m not sure this type of choice is judicious to ADM’s career.

On the flipside, Race With the Devil is another Santana-inflicted track that seems to be what ADM does best. A fairly insignificant acoustic guitar short piece follows, then the album plunges into the title track suite, which is need the album’s highlight with Flight Over Rio. On this track, we approach the perfection of the debut album’s title track. Definitely not quite as interesting as the Midnight Sun debut album, EG is still an interesting and worthy JR/F album that should easily find its place on your shelves, but it should remain a lesser work of the genre.

This is surely the best Di Meola's "electric" work and one of the most beautiful jazz-rock album of the '70s. However it's very tricky.

"Elegant Gypsy" is one the these album that leaves just "good" impresion after first time you hear it. You will like hard'n'heavy "Race With The Devil On Spanish Highway" and briliant acoustic "Mediterranean Sundance", but you won't like the long "Flight Over Rio" intro and the almost latin-pop-with-fusion-licks "Midnight Tango". That's the first impression. And the second, and the third.

Yes, this is the album that needs a lot of attention and listening to this "just good fusion" at least several times. Every pieces have a depth that needs to be "discovered". And it's also that type of album that will reveal more beauty with each playthrough - no matter if you'd listened to it 10 or 100 times.

The beginning is briliiant. Fantastic and very original bass-line in "Flight Over Rio" is like a true visualisation of the title. Add to it a bit of Moog and Arp background and you're actually flying. But this is just and intro to the fusion-samba piece. Turn the volume up to admire agressive Di Meola's entrance and his well-considered solo, that later turns into a dialogue with Hammer's Moog.

We follow with the most delicate piece of this album. After soft Fender intro Meola smoothly enters with the tango and drums bass line playing a bit simple, yet very touching notes. Fortunately not the whole piece is a soft tango ballad. There are few counter-points and changes that makes the whole piece very gripping and a bit unpredictable. With a hot jazzrock finish.

"Elegant Gypsy" features also the most recognizable and propably the best Di Meola's composition - "Mediterranean Sundance". The whole track is played in duo with Paco De Lucia - the master of flamenco guitar. The beauty of this acoustic landscape is undeniable. I think that this piece was the first meeting with flamenco music for thousands of people, who expected pure jazzrock or jazz-pieces like "No Mystery" or "Romantic Warrior" with Return To Forever.

The acoustic piece is followed by the fusion of jazzrock and proto-metal named "Race With The Devil On Spanish Highway" which is the most favourite Di Meola's piece of all metal-lovers. Although it begins with heavy theme, it's also doesn't have a straight, simple structure as it is build like a suite. "Race" is surely the most powerful show of Di Meola's skills and technique, still there are many fine elements and keyboard playing fot jazzrock fans.

After a nice, but only 1:46 minutes filler the album ends with the "Elegant Gypsy Suite". Second tango in this set, now played in 100% jazzrock style and featuring again great Jan Hammer on keyboards. However this is the most disappointing track of the whole album. It lasts for over 9-minutes, but you can clearly hear, that both Meola's and Hammer's improvisations should last at least two time longer! This mistake was repaired 5 years later with release of live album.

What is best about this album - really catchy and very original tunes, just like those from electric Return To Forever period. But on the other-hand - not so simple structure of each tune and very rich background with keyboards and percussions. You can dig this album for infinite times - you won't feel bored and you will still find new hidden gems.
The Hepcat
This was the first jazz album I've heard, ever. Back at a time when the extent of my jazz was mixed in with metal...I only know Al di Meola because he was considered an influence on shred guitar. So I picked up this album and loved it. An amazing piece of jazz fusion, this album has it all. Mind blowing guitar ranging from electric shred solos to soft and mild. Wonderful compositions and while Al may by the star, every musician is good and fit perfectly.

Flight Over Rio. Begins with a slow guitar melody, backed up by weird sounds and soon a nice drum beat. There is some great keyboard as well! A groovy bass riff and some bongos quickly give way to an explosion of Latin Jazz. The middle section is great, especially the guitar/keyboard harmonies. There are some great dueling guitar and keyboard solos backed up by some wonderfully funky bass and Latin drumming. Things slowly decelerate and it ends right where the song began. The guitar solos are nice, and fairly melodic.

Midnight Tango. The song begins gently, and features some beautiful solos by Di Meola over an amazing bass riff, enchanting keyboard, and an smooth bongo/drum beat. Overall, its a fairly slow, song and much less upbeat sounding then the first. I was in heaven during the last minute or drum madness!

Mediterranean Sundance. My favorite song on the album. This might be the fastest song on the album, with crazy shred like jazz fusion solos throughout and some wonderful dual harmonies between Di Meola and Paco, (Paco himself shows off some virtuoso skill). In fact this song is almost all them, with very little percussion or anything else for that matter. Sit back and enjoy the beautiful yet extremely fast paced harmonies and solos! A perfect song.

Race With Devil on Spanish Highway. My second favorite on the album, (and a close second) starts with a cool bass riff and some random, kind of heavy guitar, with bursts of speed. It is a very progressive song with crazy tempo and style changes throughout, and even in slower sections there are random bursts of jazz fusion. Shortly before 3 minutes one of the shred solos come in, followed by a slower ambient section mostly about the synth and drums. This song also has some of the grooviest bass riffs you'll hear. A little before 5 minutes is a frantic, insanely fast section with dual guitars, soon followed along by bass and keyboards. Nice ending as well.

Lady of Rome, Sister of Brazil. A short transition song. Very soothing.

Elegant Gypsy Suite. A 9 minute song, this is also the most progressive on the album. Complex, layered, and runs the gambit of music. Anything you can imagine is on this song, and the musicianship can not be understated. They are all great, and each contribute perfectly. A very proggy, jazz fusion song that has some really weird sounding parts. What's not to love!?

Elegant Gypsy is one of those rare albums. One of those no doubt five star albums. It is short, but what does that really matter? What's here is amazing. I love every song, and have no problem listening to whole thing straight. There is no weak point with it really. Al is amazingly fast, yet smooth and can also play some wonderful melodies. Everyone contributes like a piece in a puzzle, making a whole picture. Classic jazz fusion album, and besides an important one to me, this really is superb music.

Five Stars

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