An Evening Of Jazz Artistry
I would be less than honest if I said anything less than “Al DiMeola is one of my favorite musicians, jazz or otherwise”, and his performance last night at the Berklee Performance Center supported that opinion.
Al made a triumphant return to his former stomping grounds (I suppose I can’t call it an alma mater since he never graduated) on Halloween for the last show of his US Elegant Gypsy & More 2015 tour.
I followed his tour announcements earlier this year, waiting and hoping he would perform in Boston on this tour and my patience was rewarded. My seat was perfect, the acoustics fabulous, and the music sublime. The set list included numbers from many parts of his career, including ‘Song to the Pharoah Kings’ which was the first song he recorded with Return to Forever after joining that iconic band in 1974.
Al is supported by the Elegant Gypsy band, composed of Philippe Saisse on keyboards and vibraphones, Gumbi Ortiz on percussion and marimba, Elias Tona on bass, Luis Alicea on drums, and Evan Garr on violin.
The energy emanating from the stage was intense, at least to me sitting in the fifth row. Watching the eye contact between Al and each member of the band increased my enjoyment of the show.
Evan is, I believe, the newest member of the ensemble. Al told of hearing the Detroit native play, asking what he was doing for the next few days, and telling him he would be playing at the Montreal Jazz Festival with them. Pretty amazing for a man who appears to be merely in his early to mid 20s!
Gumbi and Philippe have been performing with Al for at least twenty-five years each, and the familiarity (or chemistry if you prefer to call it that) they have enhances the music. Al clearly trusts them to play his compositions perfectly, and they do.
The show was split into two sets. The first was all electric, while the second started as only Al on the acoustic guitar, then adding Evan and Philippe before switching back to the electric guitar. I almost wish he had played more acoustic guitar, but since this tour was called electric, I was happy he played three acoustic songs!
This was a show of jazz fusion at its finest; Al is a master at his craft. He releases new music and tours on a somewhat regular basis, and I expect he will continue to do so. I have seen him a number of times over the years and have not tired of seeing him because each show is different.
At the end of the show, it appeared at first that there would not be an encore; the lights came up and people started filing out of their seats. Suddenly, the band appeared back on stage and Al invited everyone to come down front! We remained on our feet and were thrilled with one more tune. After they finished, Al picked up a basket of Halloween candy and threw it into the audience (note to self: next time that happens, lower your head so the candy does not hit you in the face!)!
This was a larger venue than he typically plays; I probably prefer seeing him at smaller venues, but the acoustics at BPC cannot be beat (although Symphony Hall is on a par).
I hope it is not another four years before I have the opportunity to see him again! And one other thing: Al – congratulations on your recent marriage!
Thanks to Al DiMeola for the ticket; all opinions are my own.
Posted on November 1, 2015, in concert photos, concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Al DiMeola, Berklee Performance Center, boston, concert photos, concert review, Elegant Gypsy, Elias Tona, Evan Garr, Gumbi Ortiz, jazz, jazz fusion music, Luis Alicea, music, Philippe Saisse. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.