Al Di Meola's first album as a leader was 1976s "Land of the Midnight Sun", although it was his 1977 follow-up "Elegant Gypsy" that catapulted him to the very top of the jazz-fusion guitarist ranks, joining contemporaries John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell and a very small group of others who displayed a staggering command of their instrument as well as an advanced understanding of music.
Di Meola immediately established himself as not just a virtuousic guitarist, but also as a brilliant composer who wove together not only jazz and rock, but infused into it his deep love of and connection to the mediterrean inluences so clearly evident as being at the center of his being. For some, Di Meola is an acquired taste, for others the attraction is instant and the hold is deep and strong.
While releasing a series of increasingly inventive and energetic albums, he paused to record, along with John McLaughlin and Pace de Lucia, the now legendary "Friday Night in San Francisco" collection of acoustic guitar pieces. This trio would tour over the years when solo schedules permitted it, and those who were fortunate enough to be able to catch them live were treated to each artist playing solo, the various duo combinations possible, and of course the three together playing pieces from the record. These were stunning performances that set the bar very high for any who would dare to follow in the path of guitar only, acoustic concerts.
Never one to rest long or settle into or become complacent, the maestro shocked the fusion world, and likely his fan base, with the gorgeous "Cielo e Terra", a masterfully realized departure into a far more ethereal and at times haunting feel. Other releases would follow, each adding a new twist or interesting turn to the path travelled by this rare musical genius.
It was during these years that Di Meola formed his World Sinfonio band/orchestra. This unit, or project, morphs itself by switching up both the players and instrumentation, and brings with it, into each live performance especially, a constantly emerging sense of itself and the world of music as both are suspended but animated simultaneously in a dance of creativity and passion.
Di Meola continues to tour in various configurations, including a recent reunion with Stanley Clarke and Return to Forever.