Al Di Meola - Splendido Hotel (1980)

Whenever this album is mentioned I always refer to two songs featured here that characterize this album: “Two To Tango” and “Isfahan”. The former is basically a musical venture between two geniuses: Al Di Meola on acoustic guitar and Chick Corea on acoustic piano. When I remember the first time I listened to this song, it grew very slowly to my listening pleasure as I was at that time more into rock music than jazz/rock fusion kind of composition. The more I spun the CD the more I felt attached with all chords and notes produced by Al and Chick – it’s so terrific. The song is performed with minimum number of instruments but it produces great harmony between these two instruments from start to finish. For me, the sound of acoustic piano played by Chick always creates great emotion even on his jazzy style like in “The Mad Hatter” album. “Isfahan” uniqueness appears vividly through the eastern nuance produced by the music which comprises Al’s work on acoustic guitar, mando-cello interlaced with harmony produced by violin, cello and piano. The Columbus Boychoir work strengthens the eastern nuance. The song moves quite slowly and it gives a music very rich in textures and nuance.

It’s too simplistic saying that only these two songs worth listening as the opening track “Alien Chase On Arabian Desert” (8:59) gives us a treat of heavy jazz/rock fusion which in a way similar with the style of Return To Forever. The long stunning electric guitar solo has enriched the composition. You may compare this with a song “Compadres” featured in Chick Corea’s “Touchstone” album. Yes, it’s basically that kind of music. I love this track personally because it has frequent tempo and style changes. The following track “Silent Story In Her Eyes (7:35)” is another good one to observe and enjoy as it demonstrates Meola virtuosity even though through this track it is shown quite modestly. “Roller Jubilee” (4:44) has a pop music style with jazz through Al’s acoustic guitar work combined with marimba.

“Al Di`s Dream Theme”(6:50) starts off quite simple with a medium tempo and guitar fills as opener. But at minute 1:18 the song turns into a high energy and faster tempo outfit with stunning electric guitar solo accompanied with excellent rhythm section dominated by drums, percussion and keyboard. The fast speed guitar work by Mr. Meola is very unique and brings the music into upbeat tempo and frequent tempo changes accompanied by keyboard work. It flows to the next track with a faster tempo: “Dinner Music Of The Gods” (8:33). This track is my best favorite one from this album. It has a complex arrangement and frequent and dynamic tempo changes with electric guitar / keyboard solo harmony. It’s really a great track!

“Splendido Sundance” (4:51) demonstrates excellent acoustic guitar solo work with different style at left and right channels. Excellent composition. “I Can Tell” (4:01) is the weakest part of this album as it deviates from typical AL’s work – it’s a poppy R&B song. “Spanish Eyes” (5:11) has relative stable tempo featuring guitar fills. “Bianca`s Midnight Lullaby” (1:54) concludes the album with AL’ acoustic guitar solo work.

Al Di Meola’s early works are so unique that whenever you knew the style, you can identify any other song you had never heard before – especially the way he plays the guitar. In my opinion, there is no guitar player that plays similar to Al. You still can enjoy this style through this album as many songs show the style I’m referring to. This is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin’ …! - Review by Gatot (Gatot Widayanto)

Track Listings

1. Alien Chase On Arabian Desert (8:59)
2. Silent Story In Her Eyes (7:35)
3. Roller Jubilee (4:44)
4. Two To Tango (4:13)
5. Al Di`s Dream Theme (6:50)
6. Dinner Music Of The Gods (8:33)
7. Splendido Sundance (4:51)
8. I Can Tell (4:01)
9. Spanish Eyes (5:11)
10. Isfahan (11:35)
11. Bianca`s Midnight Lullaby (1:54)

Total Time: 68:26

- Al Di Meola / electric and acoustic guitars, mandocello, celeste (3), vocals and drums (8)
- David Campbell / violin (10)
- Peter Cannarozzi / Oberheim (2 & 3)
- Eddie Colon / percussion (1, 2, 3 & 5)
- Columbus Boy's Choir / vocals (10)
- Chick Corea / piano solo (2), piano (2 & 4)
- Steve Gadd / drums (3 & 9)
- Robbie Gonzalez / drums (1, 2, 5 & 6)
- Jan Hammer / Moog synth solo (5)
- Anthony Jackson / bass (2, 3, 5 & 9)
- Dennis Karmzyn / cello (10)
- Raymond Kelly / cello (10)
- Tim Landers / bass (1, 5 & 6)
- Mingo Lewis / syndrum percussion (3), syndrumbomb (5)
- Les Paul / guitar (9) (left channel)
- Phillippe Saisse / keyboards and marimba (1, 2, 3, 5 & 6), keyboards Moogbass and backing vocals (8)
- Carol Shive / viola (10)
Releases information

LP Sony SRCS-9384

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