Canadian Musician


Hal Rodriguez

Concert Review: Al Di Meola at Nathan Phillips Square

Al Di Meola TD Jazz Fest Elegant Gypsy Tour 2015 2
Legendary guitarist/composer, Al Di Meola, brought his highly anticipated “Elegant Gypsy” tour to the TD Jazz Fest Mainstage last night at Nathan Phillips Square. Di Meola and his world class band played a lengthy set of original compositions from his classic 70’s and 80’s albums, including the influential “Elegant Gypsy” record, which showcased his signature fusion of virtuosic electric guitar with Afro-Cuban rhythms, Flamenco, and Argentine Tango. Fan favourite tunes, like “SeƱor Mouse”, “Flight Over Rio”, and “Race with Devil”, elicited rapturous responses and standing ovations from the audience throughout the show.

Al Di Meola TD Jazz Fest Elegant Gypsy Tour 2015 1
Despite being called a nostalgic tour, their live performances of these songs sounded fresh, exciting, and forward thinking. Di Meola’s compositions are rich in intricacy and colour: they shift from dark and dramatic movements featuring explosive, lightning quick electric guitar lines, to playful and syncopated passages and exotic melodies. Al’s band of Gumbi Ortiz (percussion), Philippe Saisse (keys and marimba), Joel Taylor (drums), and Arman Sabal Lecco (bass) provided hypnotic, invigorating, and unyielding rhythms that kept the crowd engaged. Di Meola also played a few tunes from his new album, “Elysium”, proving that his work has evolved with even more sophistication over the years.

Al Di Meola TD Jazz Fest Elegant Gypsy Tour 2015 3
A highlight of the show was Al’s acoustic set, where he performed mostly solo and had stirring musical exchanges with his long-time bandmate, Ortiz. On his classical guitar, Al displayed his peerless mastery of polyrhythms, while playing enchanting chord melodies that struck an air of romance. Much to the delight of the audience, this unplugged set included “Spain” by Chick Corea and a bold reworking of The Beatles’ “Blackbird”. For more on Al Di Meola, his latest album “Elysium”, and his “Elegant Gypsy” tour, visit AlDiMeola.Com. (Photos by Hal Rodriguez)

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, published writer, and music transcriber who has done work for premier guitarists like Oz Noy and Derryl Gabel. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on, and at

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