Jazz

Al Di Meola, Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin: ''Passion Grace & Fire.'' (Columbia FC 38645) Here's acoustic guitar at its very best. Three masters of the six strings join efforts in this one superb album. Six cuts, two original compositions by each artist, make up this record filled with fresh, exciting music. Al Di Meola, often heralded as one of the best guitarists in the world, joins mind, music, and talent with Spain's Paco De Lucia and Britian's John McLaughlin in the finest in flamenco. Crisp, tight, fast, and clean, each player is in total command of his instrument, technically and emotionally. Di Meola's steel-strung Ovation's piercing, sterling timbre mixes with the gut-strung guitars' smooth, mellow sound to form a union of contrasting tone. The avid guitarist and the average music fan each can listen in awe as the masters erupt into rapid-fire runs, picking and strumming with unbelievable speed and clarity. Thumping and clapping (palmada) add a percussive dimension to the often syncopated rhythms. Polyrythms and antiphonal call and response add to the graceful intricacies supported by an underlying flamenco pulse. The real beauty of this album is in the musical communication between the performers. Although not a live album, the immediacy and intimacy are present. The artists are performing with and for each other - demanding, whispering, communicating musically. The listener is a lucky guest at a very special meeting.

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