He rubbed his fat little finger against his chin and gave me one of his characteristic shy smiles. Without any further words, he fumbled with his I-phone, flicked through a great number of icons on its small navy blue screen for about a minute or so, lifted his head from it and pressed on one.
Nothing could describe how stunned I was when some crystal clear sound emerged from the Rogers 5 speakers above him. After half a minute, I knew that I had to have it. I told him so. I said that he's good. But Mr Chu said,"But he doesn't sound like the Beatles!"
"Of course, he doesn't . If he were, what's the point of buying his disc. He gives his personal twist to it. And he does it in a way that adds to and not destroy the music! That's what's so lacking in so many run of the mill artists today"
"Sorry, it's sold out! Every time I played it, it'd be sold! ", he said with a satisfied but a slightly rueful smile. " but if you want it, I can order one for you. You want to do that?"
He got out a piece of note paper and wrote something or other on it. I didn't see what he was writing. Then whilst he was doing it, my eyes wandered on to a poster of Esther Ofarim posted on a promotion board right next to his electronic anti-theft monitor frame at the entrance. Ofarim is one of my favourite female singers. I asked Mr. Chu if she had any new releases.
"No, it's been some time since she got one out."
"Never mind, no matter how long it's been out, if I don't have it, it's new to me."
"OK.", he said and started moving his overweight frame from his seat behind the counter with obvious difficulty.
"You OK?" I asked.
"Oh, nothing much except that I've got 4 medical appointments scheduled for next two months" and squeezed a bitter smile.
"What, you're not joking. You serious? "
He told me what they were.
In the middle of flicking through one of the little compartments of his CD racks, he yelled "Oh, I was wrong. Here's the CD you were asking for! "
He showed me a CD with about 20 small photos on its cover showing the British flag, a car, some colorful promotion poster, the profile of a guy in dark glasses and a scarf around his neck over an overcoat against the shadowy outlines of what looked like a red London double decker bus, various London street scenes, huge black letters "Abbey Road" over part of a map of London,(the name of one of the finest studios in the recording industry), part of a studio electronic equalizer panel with various stops and Al di Miola with a guitar upon his lap and a headphone over his head of thick black hair.... It was an album called "Al di Miola: All Your Life: A Tribute to the Beatles Recorded at the Abbey Road Studios, London". So, that's what it was that I was listening just now.
I dutifully approached the sales counter. I was a happy man. And not just at that moment when I got that disc and the other one which Mr Chu was originally looking for called the "Radio-Genève Recordings of Esther Ofarim". They were not cheap. But there's always a premium on quality! I have no complaints when the sound came out of my CD player at home.
Al di Miola is one of the best guitarists around, playing all kinds of guitar music, pop, jazz, flamenco, latin and fusion, electric and acoustic. He delivers magic with whatever it was that he was playing. He played various beatle favourites with his own unique brand of jazzy and sometimes latin rhythms. He's on a class all his own. With his tribute to Beatles, he put in additonal chords, his jerky jazz rhythms and his probably half improvised or half written flourishes and quick finger runs on the guitar strings, always played with a kind of virtuosity difficult to match by any guitarist with less talent. Even as I'm writing, the sound of his guitar is streaming into my ears strings of tiny sparkles of sheer pleasure.
This is what the talented guitarist said about the album, " I finished my job with this tribute to The Beatles. It was love at first sight and I have never stopped loving them. In fact, all my life. And although I have tried fusion, jazz and other styles in my career, I always knew who I owe my profession to. When I come back to The Beatles music, it means never ending party for me,” There's a total of 14 marvelous tracks in "All My Lif"e: some romantic, some burning with quiet fire and some really hot. Al di Miola is born Al Laurence Dimeola in July 22, 1954 in Jersey City, New Jersey and is now approaching 60 but still going strong. Perhaps his music is his way of staying young. Could it be that true elixir of life is the passion one takes in one's love?
For those who wish to explore further on his music, here's his discography:
Land of the Midnight Sun (1976)
Elegant Gypsy (1977)
Splendido Hotel (1980)
Electric Rendezvous (1982)
Cielo e Terra (1985)
Soaring Through a Dream (1985)
Tirami Su (1987)
World Sinfonia (1990) with Dino Saluzzi
Kiss My Axe (1991)
World Sinfonia II – Heart of the Immigrants (1993) with Dino Saluzzi
Orange and Blue (1994)
Di Meola Plays Piazzolla (1996) with Dino Saluzzi
The Infinite Desire (1998)
Winter Nights (1999)
World Sinfonía III - The Grande Passion (2000) with Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Flesh on Flesh (2002)
Consequence of Chaos (2006)
Vocal Rendezvous (2006)
Diabolic Inventions And Seduction For Solo Guitar (2007)
Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody (2011)
All Your Life: Tribute to The Beatles recorded at the Abbey Road Studios, London (2013)
Friday Night in San Francisco (1980) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía
Passion, Grace and Fire (1983) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía
The Guitar Trio (1996) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía
This is Al di Meola performing a solo
This is the famous Guitar Trio (Paco de Lucia, Al di Meola and John McLaughlin) performing Chick Corea's Spain with their own improvisations in Brussels in 1996. You can't possibly get another guitar trio like that anywhere, ever!