Al Di Meola - guitar, vocals; Steve Gadd - drums; Anthony Jackson - bass; Barry Miles - keyboards; Mingo Lewis - percussion; Eddie Colon - percussion
Scott Muni, acting as this show's emcee, makes a reference to how the audience is about to hear some "real" music just before bringing on Al Di Meola and his solo band for an electrifying showcase of jazz-rock fusion. It is almost as if the announcer is promising the audience redemption for having had to endure corporate rock and disco. Remember, this was 1978 …
Di Meola, a Berklee School of Music graduate whose blistering guitar style married the best elements of rock and jazz, had just left Return to Forever, the groundbreaking fusion band that included Chic Corea on keyboards, Stanley Clarke on bass, and Lenny White on drums. During this time he was among the most celebrated jazz-rock musicians on the scene. Two years prior, while still in Return to Forever, Di Meola had released Land of the Midnight Sun; he followed it in 1977 with Elegant Gypsy, which went Gold in the US. The success was driven by FM radio stations, an unlikely benefactor given their begrudging support of jazz-fusion.
This show, recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour at New York's Palladium Theater, features an all-star band that was assembled in order to record the 1978 album, Casino. With Steve Gadd on drums, Barry Miles on keyboards, bassist extraordinaire Anthony Jackson, and a percussion section including Mingo Lewis, these guys could really play, even if they hadn't been working together for very long. For the set, Di Meola mixes material from his three solo albums, including Casino. "Chasin' the Voodoo," "Dark Eye Tango," "Short Tails Of The Black Forest," and "Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars," are played with speed and precision, and the power of the Gadd/Jackson rhythm section is undeniable.
Things are thrown through a curve when Di Meola offers up a new arrangement of RTF bandmate Chick Corea's jazz classic, "Captain Senór Mouse." With most of the songs clocking in at five to ten minutes, Di Meola is eager to give his side players considerable space and time to solo and stretch out. Other highlights include "Midnight Tango" and the powerful "Race With The Devil On The Spanish Highway." The band finishes its encore to a thunderous response from the crowd. Not knowing any other new material, the band performs a reprise of "Chasin' the Voodoo."
Di Meola has remained a jazz fusion superstar ever since, although he is focusing much more on acoustic music and more straightforward jazz leanings these days.