2. Double Concerto
3. Prelude: Adagio For Theresa
4. The Grande Passion
5. Asia De Cuba
7. Opus Green
In recent years, Al DiMeola's focus has been almost exclusively on acoustic music, a medium which has always been important throughout his career. The Grande Passion, while released under his name, is the third album associated with his Heart of the Immigrants project. It features DiMeola's acoustic guitar prominently, as well as a host of acoustic instruments like piano, bass, percussion and a symphonic orchestra. The music is strongly influenced by DiMeola's mentor and friend, Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, and several Piazzolla pieces appear on the album together with DiMeola's equally strong original material.
Let's just get this over with right away: this is DiMeola's most accomplished, lush, musical and sublime album to date. Beautifully enhanced by an organic production, DiMeola's and Piazzolla's Latin compositions are superbly arranged, with magnificent orchestral sections (but nothing like the muzak tripe often heard on acoustic records) and exciting dynamics ("The Grande Passion"). The compositions themselves are highly melodic, structured and complex, with very little of the pointless improvised noodling associated with most jazz. DiMeola's playing is more subtle, inspired, melodic and awe-inspiring than ever. Echoes of his past surface here and there, with "Soledad" evoking "Isfahan" from his 1979 album Splendido Hotel and "Opus in Green" sounding like an acoustic Return to Forever track. The album's pièce de résistance, the title track, is possibly DiMeola's most impressive compositional tour de force, with compelling melodies and arrangements and stupendously emotional performances from all the musicians involved.
This album has been in massively heavy rotation on all my music-playing devices since I obtained it almost two years ago, and it has shown no sign of aging. You should be purchasing this album right now instead of reading this review. What are you waiting for?
Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier
Review date: 09/2002