Emporium Presents

Al Di Meola

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Palace of Fine Arts Theatre

San Francisco, CA

Buy Tickets

$35-$65 | $3 increase day of show

Al Di Meola


Al Di Meola’s ongoing fascination with complex rhythmic syncopation combined with provocative
lyrical melodies and sophisticated harmony has been at the heart of his music throughout a
celebrated career that has spanned four decades and earned him critical accolades, three gold
albums and more than six million in record sales worldwide. A bona fide guitar hero, perennial
poll-winner, and prolific composer, he has amassed over 20 albums as a leader while
collaborating on a dozen or so others with the likes of the fusion supergroup Return to Forever
(with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White), the celebrated acoustic Guitar Trio
featuring fellow virtuosos John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia, and the Rite of Strings trio with
bassist Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. And while his dazzling technique on both acoustic
and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard fanatics who
regularly flock to his concerts, the depth of Di Meola’s writing along with the soulfulness and the
inherent lyricism of his guitaristic expression have won him legions of fans worldwide beyond
the guitar aficionado set.

A pioneer of blending world music and jazz, going back to early Latin-tinged fusion outings like
1976’s Land of the Midnight Sun, 1977’s Elegant Gypsy and 1978’s Casino, the guitar great
continues to explore the rich influence of flamenco, tango, Middle Eastern, Brazilian and African
music with his World Sinfonia, an ambitious pan-global group that he formed in 1991. Their
exhilarating world music fusion has been documented on such releases as 2000’s The Grande
Passion (featuring the Toronto Symphony Orchestra), 2007’s Live in London, 2011’s Pursuit of
Radical Rhapsody and the stunning 2012 DVD, Morocco Fantasia (recorded at the Mawazine
Festival in Rabat, Morocco and featuring special guests Said Chraibi on oud, Abdellah Meri on
violin and Tari Ben Ali on percussion).

Growing up in Bergenfield, NJ with the music of Elvis Presley, The Ventures and The Beatles, Di
Meola naturally gravitated to guitar as a youngster and by his early teens was already an
accomplished player. Attaining such impressive skills at such a young age didn’t come easy for
Al, but rather was the result of focused dedication and intensive periods of woodshedding
between his junior and senior years in high school. “I used to practice the guitar eight to ten
hours a day,” he told Down Beat. “And I was trying to find myself, or find the kind of music that
suited where I was going with the guitar.”

His earliest role models in jazz included guitarists Tal Farlow and Kenny Burrell. But when he
discovered Larry Coryell, whom Al would later dub “The Godfather of Fusion,” he was taken with
the guitarist’s unprecedented blending of jazz, blues and rock into one seamless vocabulary on
the instrument. “I used to ride the bus from New Jersey to see him at little clubs in Greenwich
Village,” he recalls. “Wherever he was playing, I’d be there.” In 1972, Al enrolled at the Berklee
College of Music in Boston and by the second semester there began playing in a fusion quartet
led by keyboardist Barry Miles. When a gig tape of that band was later passed on to Chick
Corea by a friend of Al’s in 1974, the 19-year-old guitarist was tapped to join Corea’s fusion
supergroup Return to Forever as a replacement for guitarist Bill Connors.

After three landmark recordings with Return to Forever — 1974’s Where Have I Known You
Before, 1975’s Grammy Award winning No Mystery and 1976’s Romantic Warrior — the group
disbanded and Al subsequently started up his career as a solo artist. His 1976 debut as a
leader, Land of the Midnight Sun, was a blazing showcase of his signature chops and
Latintinged compositions that featured a stellar cast including drummers Steve Gadd and Lenny
White, bassist Anthony Jackson and Jaco Pastorius, keyboardists Jan Hammer, Barry Miles and
Chick Corea and percussionist Mingo Lewis. Over the course of six more albums with Columbia
Records – Elegant Gypsy, Casino, Splendido Hotel, Electric Rendezvous, Tour De Force and
Scenario – Al established himself as an influential force in contemporary music.

1980 marked the triumph of the acoustic guitar trio with Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin.
Their debut recording on Columbia Records, Friday Night in San Francisco, became a landmark
recording that surpassed the four million mark in sales. The following year, 1981, Di Meola was
inducted into Guitar Player’s Gallery of Greats after five consecutive wins as Best Jazz Guitarist
in the magazine’s Readers Poll and winning best album and acoustic guitarist for a total of a
record eleven wins. The three virtuosos in the trio toured together from 1980 through 1983,
releasing the studio album Passion, Grace & Fire in 1982. In 1995, they reunited for a third
recording, Guitar Trio, follow by another triumphant world tour.

In early 1996, Di Meola formed a new trio with the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and RTF bandmate
Stanley Clarke called The Rite of Strings. Their self-titled debut was released in 1995. Di Meola
subsequently recorded with the likes of opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti, pop stars Paul
Simon, classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and Italian pop star Pino Daniele. Over the course
of his career, he has also worked and recorded with Phil Collins, Carlos Santana, Steve
Winwood, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Milton
Naciemento, Egberto Gismonti, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Steve Vai, Frank Zappa
and Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

Di Meola’s 2013 release All Your Life was an acoustic tour de force that had him revisiting the
music of a seminal influence – The Beatles. “I really credit the Beatles for the reason why I play
guitar,” he says. “That was a major catalyst for me to want to learn music, so their impact was
pretty strong.” A virtual one-man show of virtuosity, it features the guitar great interpreting 14
familiar Beatles tunes in the stripped-down setting of strictly acoustic guitar.

In 2015 he released Elysium, which finds the guitar great blending the lush tones of his nylon
string Conde Hermanos acoustic prototype model and a ’71 Les Paul electric (his Return to
Forever and Elegant Gypsy axe) in a collection of songs that are at once invigorating and
alluring. “It represents a new composition phase for me, whereby the writing became, in a
sense, my therapy during a challenging personal transition in my life,” he said. In the same year
he was honored as the 22nd recipient of the Montreal Jazz Festival’s Miles Davis Award,
created in 1994 to honor a great international jazz musician for the entire body of his or her work
and for that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom.

2018 marks a new era for Al Di Meola: His first of six signed projects with German record label
ear music, “OPUS” was released in March. The Grammy award winning virtuoso says: “With
Opus I wanted to further my compositional skills as I think that the evolution of this part of my
persona has labelled me more composer/guitarist than guitarist/composer. For the first time in
my life, I have written music being happy, I’m in a wonderful relationship with my wife, I have a
baby girl and a beautiful family that inspires me every day. I believe it shows in the music.”
In July 2018 Di Meola received the Honorary Doctorate Degree of Music of his former
alma mater Berklee School of Music.

Di Meola celebrates his legacy of 45 years on stage with the “Past Present and Future 2019”

Additional Information

VIP Packages available (DOES NOT INCLUDE TICKET)

Cost: $150


1)  Access to the soundcheck with seats in the first five rows during soundcheck. Cameras are permissible (NO FLASH PLEASE), no video recording.
2)  Following soundcheck, you will meet Al Di Meola and he will sign up to two pieces of memorabilia along with a CD featuring the current Acoustic Band. The CD will be provided with your package.
3)  Photo taken by a tour representative with Al using your phone or camera.
4) Priority access to merchandise booth before doors open.