Personnel: Al DiMeola (piano, ARP synthesizer, acoustic & 6- & 12-string electric guitars, mando-cello, maracas, timbales, percussion); Barry Miles (marimba, acoustic & electric pianos, organ, Mini-Moog synthesizer); Philippe Saisse (marimba, electric piano, keyboards); Jan Hammer (electric piano, keyboards, Mini-Moog & Fairlight CMI synthesizers, programming); Vlodek Gulgowski (electric piano, synthesizer); Anthony Jackson, Jaco Pastorius, Tim Landers (electric bass); Lenny White, Alphonse Mouzon, Steve Gadd, Robbie Gonzalez, Phil Collins, Simon Phillips (drums); Mingo Lewis (bongos, congas, timbales, cowbell, percussion); Eddie Colon (timbales, roto-tom, percussion).
Producer: Al Di Meola.
Compilation producers: Bob Belden, Bill Milkowski.
Engineers include: Dave Palmer, Dennis MacKay.
Recorded between 1975 and 1982. Includes liner notes by Bill Milkowski.
Digitally remastered by Mark Wilder and Seth Foster (Sony Music Studios, New York, New York).
Personnel: Al di Meola (guitar, electric guitar, timbales); Barry Miles (electric piano, mini-Moog synthesizer); Vlodek Gulgowski (electric piano); Jan Hammer (keyboards); Jaco Pastorius, Tim Landers (electric bass); Anthony Jackson (bass guitar); Robert Gonzales, Lenny White, Alphonse Mouzon, Phil Collins, Simon Phillips , Steve Gadd (drums); Mingo Lewis (congas, percussion); Eddie Colon (timbales, percussion).
Audio Mixer: David Palmer .
Recording information: Calderone, North Hempstead, Long Island, NY (08/1975-??/1982); Caribou Ranch, Nederland, CO (08/1975-??/1982); Electric Lady Studios, New York, NY (08/1975-??/1982); Power Station, New York, NY (08/1975-??/1982); Tower Theater, Philadelphia, PA (08/1975-??/1982).
Photographer: Don Hunstein.
Arranger: Al di Meola.
Sony's third anthology of Return to Forever guitarist Al di Meola's Columbia Records years hits most of the bases and scores extra points by adding four previously unavailable live tracks that account for a whopping 40 minutes of playing time. The double disc features 16 songs from di Meola's seven albums for the label from 1975-1983 and successfully covers highlights from the jazz guitar fusionist's eclectic styles during his early career. Only 22 when his first solo album, Land of the Midnight Sun, was released, di Meola had already cut his teeth for three years with Chick Corea's Return to Forever, and although his style owed a lot to Corea's vision, he had already defined his sound. The guitarist's precise attack, staccato playing, furious speed, and heavily percussive arrangements would serve him well throughout these formative years. Even though he was often criticized for playing too many notes (just listen to the frantic, head-spinning beginning of "Suite: Golden Dawn" from Land of the Midnight Sun), di Meola's more subtle roots in Latin, flamenco, funk, and rock are evident in almost all of his work. He even incorporates strains of the world music that later became the dominant force in his recordings. Although there is evidence of a softer approach, the majority of Anthology concentrates on the hyperactive fret-hopping ability of the young di Meola as he tries to prove he's the fastest guitarist in the world. Even on the acoustic, newly released live tracks from 1978 like the 11-minute "Medley: Short Tales from the Black Forest/Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars," the results are anything but laid-back. Oddly, the disc does not include anything from di Meola's two predominately unplugged trio albums, when he partnered with John McLaughlin and Paco de Luc¡a for a tremendously successful guitar summit. With three tracks off Tour de Force: Live and another four from concerts in 1982 and 1978, this disc includes almost an hour of di Meola and his versatile and talented bands tearing it up in front of appreciative audiences. While that makes for some hot guitar showcases, it also focuses too heavily on his frantic fingering, a style which gets wearing over the long haul. The audio fidelity of the newly released live songs is also of substantially inferior quality (the 1982 selections are particularly bad, with the drums sounding like trash cans), making them even more difficult to listen to. But with almost two and a half hours of music, along with liner notes that feature pertinent quotes from the artist, there's plenty on these discs to enjoy. Fret-shredders of all ages will undoubtedly be inspired by the astounding musicianship exemplified here. It's not a full picture of the guitarist's skills, but Anthology is a well-chosen compilation of a major portion of di Meola's career. ~ Hal Horowitz