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Al Di Meola Pays Personal Tribute To The Beatles With New Album + Live Shows

Published 8 years ago on May 15, 2013

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

'All Your Life Puts a FreshNew Rhythmic Slant on Beloved Tunes'

Returning to the Ronnie Scott's following last yearsWorld Sinfonia shows, Al Di Meola will perform music from his latest release, "AllYour Life", an acoustic tour de force that has him revisiting themusic of the Beatles.  A virtual one-man show of virtuosity,it features the guitar great interpreting familiar Beatles tunes inthe stripped-down setting of strictly acoustic guitar.  "I'vecome full circle with this Beatles project" says Meola, "I startedout my life loving the Beatles, and I never stopped, just like somany other guitarists from my generation.  In the middle, weall went into whatever music we pursued in our careers - fusion,jazz, whatever it might be.  We all wanted to further ourcraft.  But when you come back to the Beatles' music, it'slike, 'Man, this stuff is still happening!'  All of it!"   

 

Monday 10th - Tuesday 11th June

Two shows per night.

1st show:  Doors 5.30pm

2nd show:  Doors 9.30pm

 

For more info or to book tickets visit www.ronniescotts.co.uk

 

Like millions of other American boys growing up during the1960s, guitarist Al Di Meola was forever affected by seeing TheBeatles on the Ed Sullivan Show back in the era ofblack & whiteTV. His early encounter with the Fab Four lit a passion in him andmay bedirectly responsible for the New Jersey native first pickingup the guitar. "Had they not existed, I probably would be, whoknows...a fireman today or some other job," says the celebratedguitarist. "And beyond just me, they changed the whole world. Thereis no music in my lifetime that made as huge an impact on the worldlike that of the Beatles. What they did to modern pop music in the'60s changed everything."

 

 

Al Di Meola @ Germano Studios

 

  

Nearly 50 years after the first wave of Beatlemania washed ontoStateside shores, the sixstring superstar returns to his earlyroots in paying a personal tribute to that seminal influence withAll Your Life. A virtual one-man show of virtuosity, All Your Lifefeatures the guitar great interpreting 14 familiar Beatles tunes inthe stripped-down setting of strictly acoustic guitar. On sometracks, like "In My Life" and "Because," he overdubs three guitarsto get the rich, shimmering textures and intricate patterns createdon his signature Al Di Meola Conde Hermanos nylon string guitar,his Gibson steel string guitar and a 1948 Martin acoustic. Otherslike "Penny Lane," "I Am The Walrus" and "I Will" utilize twoguitars while "And I Love Her," "Blackbird" and "If I Fell"utilized a single guitar track. All the percussion heard throughoutthe recording is Di Meola himself slapping the wood body of hisinstrument or strumming muted strings for percussive effect.

 

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All the tracks are imbued with the guitarist's signatureflamenco flourishes, intricate arpeggiating and dazzlingcross-picking. Only one track does he employ other musicians (adramatic reading of "Eleanor Rigby" that features a stringquartet). Recorded in analogue at Abbey Road Studios in London,where the Beatles created most of their records during theirheyday, All Your Life stands as a triumph in the long andillustrious career of a bona fide guitar hero.

"I've come full circle with this," says Di Meola, who wasinducted into Guitar Player's Gallery of Greats in 1981 after fourconsecutive wins as Best Jazz Guitarist in the magazine's ReadersPoll. "I started out my life loving the Beatles, and I neverstopped, just like a lot of so many other guitarists from mygeneration. In the middle, we all went into whatever music wepursued in our careers -- fusion, jazz, whatever it might be. Weall wanted to further our craft. But when you come back to theBeatles' music, it's like, 'Man, this stuff is still happening! Allof it!' And there's not a day that goes by that we're not somehowtouched by the Beatles, whether it's a story online or something wehear. It's almost every day that we see some connection in ourlives with the Beatles."

 

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Back in the '70s, Di Meola blazed the fusion trail withsupergroup Return To Forever and with his own powerhouseLatin-tinged fusion group. He focused on the purity of acousticguitar during the early '80s with a trio of international virtuososin Spain's flamenco master Paco de Lucia and British-born founderof the Mahavishnu Orchestra, John McLaughlin. For the past 20-plusyears, Di Meola has been courting a different muse with his WorldSinfonia, a dynamic group that blends world music elements and alsospecializes in interpreting the work of Argentine tango masterAstor Piazzolla. The acoustic All Your Life follows on the heels ofDi Meola's 2011 recording, Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody, whichincorporated everything from Argentinian tango to Spanish flamencoto Middle Eastern and North African music and included anelectrifying interpretation of The Beatles' "Strawberry FieldsForever."

Di Meola says that playing that Beatles tune on his last albummay have triggered something. "I thought, 'Why stop there?' Thesetunes are so familiar and beloved by everybody. And to be able torecord them at Abbey Road Studios was really special. Being there,I felt like a kid for the first time since I was a kid. It's anamazing place, like going to Disney World at five years old.Between that and getting to meet Paul McCartney last summer while Iwas preparing the record...the whole experience and what it meantto me is like a dream come true."

Di Meola's serendipitous encounter with the ex-Beatle was apersonal highlight for 2012. As he explains, "I had alreadyrecorded three tunes at Abbey Road and decided to rent a house forLabor Day weekend in the Hamptons, with the idea of working onarrangements for the rest of the pieces out there. And as Ifinalizing the deal with the realtor to rent this house, he tellsme, 'Oh, by the way, your next door neighbor is a famous pop star.'And when I found out it was Paul McCartney, I got chills. So mywife and I drove out there and as we're pulling into the driveway,there he was pulling out of his driveway right next to mine. Nosecurity, no nothing. And he was driving an old Ford Bronco. Wefinally got to meet on the third day. I saw him pulling out of thedriveway and said hello. He rolled down the window and we talkedfor a while. I told him I was recording at Abbey Road, and all thetime I'm thinking, 'Here I am, talking to Paul McCartney! What thehell!'

 

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No doubt McCartney would be impressed by Di Meola's personalinterpretations of the 14 Beatles tunes featured on All Your Life."The idea was to keep it simple," says the guitarist. "Thingsalways sound better when they're not cluttered together.Essentially, I wanted to include all the syncopation in there whiletrying to keep the essence of the tune in tact in terms of melody.There's been a lot of jazz guys who have done their owninterpretations, but there's usually so much reharmonizing andaltering of the melody that you would never even know that it's aBeatles tune. And I did not want to do that. My intent was to bringin the sophistication through rhythm as opposed to altering ofharmony, which really would take the prettiness away. I wanted topreserve the beauty of these tunes."

While he says that certain tunes like "She's Leaving Home" and"I Am The Walrus" were relatively easy to execute, others like"Penny Lane" and "Michelle" were extremely difficult. "Some of thisstuff was as hard to practice and get right, in terms of the waythat I syncopated it, as anything of Piazzolla's. Even though youcould view the Beatles as more simplistic music, it's in the waythat you approach it. And some of them were really tricky."

The May release of Di Meola's All Your Life is the culminationof his own personal magical mystery tour. "This project is alifelong dream, long overdue and immensely fulfilling!" says theguitar great. He plans to follow up this summer with a "Beatles andMore" tour featuring his World Sinfonia augmented by stringquartet.

 

'All Your Life' is avaiable from iTunes here  

To find out more about Al Di Meola's Ronnie Scottsshows or to book tickets visit www.ronniescotts.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 


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