Al Di Meola Celebrates New and Old Songs at Paramount Hudson Valley

A steady crowd gathered for a musical treat as guitar virtuoso Al Di Meola brought his tour to a close on its last stop at Paramount Hudson Valley on Feb. 26. His stop at the historic Peekskill theater in support of his latest release Elysium, also marked a celebration of the 40th anniversary of one of his first releases Elegant Gypsy.

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Before starting his first set, Di Meola took a couple of minutes to introduce his band, most of whom he has known or played with for many years – Philippe Saisse (keyboards, marimba), Gumbi Ortiz (percussion), Elias Tona (bass), Luis Alicea (drums) and Evan Garr (violin). Kicking off with the fast-paced and melodic “One Night Last June,” the first set intertwined tightly-knit improvisation traded between band members with Di Meola’s brilliant songwriting. Before wrapping up the set the theater was treated to a throwback to Di Meola’s days as a teenager playing with the prog supergroup Return to Forever with “Medieval Overture.”

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As skilled as Di Meola is on electric guitar, he is equally talented on acoustic guitar and started the second set with a few acoustic songs by himself and later with some help from the rest of the band. He opened this portion with a work-in-progress titled “Ava’s Dream Sequence,” inspired by his daughter. Leading back into the electric portion of the second set was a teaser of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” The set was exciting with a looser, more improvised feel to it focusing more on his older compositions/collaborations.

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Perhaps the most appreciable part of Di Meola’s performance was the career-spanning diversity of the setlist. Not only did he perform songs from early in his career including a few from Elegant Gypsy (to mark that album’s 40th anniversary), but he included recent compositions from Elysium and a few favorites from his collaborations with Chick Corea and Return to Forever. It was nothing short of a top-notch end to a tour.

Setlist

Set 1: One Night Last June, Flight Over Rio, Babylon, Senor Mouse, Adour, Medieval Overture

Set 2: {acoustic set}, Black Dog, Midnight Tango, Song to the Pharaoh Kings, Dark Eyed Tango, Egyptian Danza

Encore: Chiqualin, Race With Devil on Spanish Highway, Sorceress

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