[Review] Al Di Meola: Casino (1978)

Di Meola’s third is a safe bet to please fusion fans who enjoyed his first two albums.

Kronomyth 3.0: Three of a Kind.

Di Meola stuck with the same cards (Gadd, Jackson, Lewis, Miles), switched Gibsons (from black to white) and upped the ante on the delightful Casino. Things get off to a rousing start with “Egyptian Danza,” which mixes Latin and Middle Eastern sounds and showcases the stunning staccato pickwork of Al Di Meola. The by-now-obligatory Mingo Lewis composition, “Chasin’ The Voodoo,” keeps the progressive-fusion vibe at maximum velocity/intensity and features Di Meola, Miles (on mini-moog) and Mingo trading short solos in tandem. “Dark Eye Tango” initially promises a smoother, more romantic pacing, but soon becomes more agitated and accelerated, turning into another of Di Meola’s unique fusion tango pieces.

Side two starts with one of Chick Corea’s oft-revisited works, “Señor Mouse,” which here gets an interesting reading from Al and Miles that sounds by turns subdued and subversive. The four-part “Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars” feels like four separate acoustic pieces fused together, although individual moments are exciting. The album closes with the title track, electric tango music that again features the articulated and accelerated Gibson blanc. Although each of Di Meola’s first three records are very good, Casino has always been slightly superior in my mind. Maybe it’s the stable lineup, the choice of the mini-moog over the ARP synthesizer or the ambitious arrangements. If fusion and fiery fretwork get your juices flowing, Casino is a sure bet to please.

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Original elpee version

A1. Egyptian Danza (Al Di Meola) (5:58)
A2. Chasin’ The Voodoo (Mingo Lewis) (5:02)
A3. Dark Eye Tango (Al Di Meola) (5:25)
B1. Señor Mouse (Chick Corea) (7:19)
B2. Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars (Al Di Meola) (5:13)
a. Viva La Danzarina
b. Guitars of The Exotic Isle
c. Rhapsody Italia
d. Bravoto Fantasia
B3. Casino (Al Di Meola) (9:33)

All songs arranged by Al Di Meola

The Players

Al Di Meola (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, castanets, hand claps, foot stomps, muted congas and bongos, percussion), Steve Gadd (drums), Anthony Jackson (bass guitar), Mingo Lewis (congas, bongos, percussion), Barry Miles (electric piano, mini moog, Yamaha organ, acoustic piano, marimba) with Eddie Colon (timbales and roto toms on 6). Produced by Al Di Meola; engineered by Dave Palmer.

The Pictures

Album cover concept by Al Di Meola. Photography by Bill King, fashion by DeNoyer.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in May 1978 in the US (Columbia, JC 35277), the UK (CBS, S CBS 82645), Israel (CBS, CBS 82645), Japan (CBS/Sony, 25AP 990) and Spain (CBS, S 82645) with picture innersleeve; reached #52 on the US charts and #5 on the US Jazz charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the Netherlands (CBS, CBS 32071) [orange-yellow label].
  2. Re-issued on elpee and compact disc in the US (Columbia, PC/CK 35277).
  3. Re-released on remastered compact disc and cassette in 1992 in the US (Columbia, CK/CT 47482).
  4. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in Japan (Sony, SRCS 9383).
  5. Re-issued on compact disc on November 29, 2017 in Japan (Sony, SICJ 295).
  6. Re-packaged with Elegant Gypsy on 2-for-1 remastered compact disc on November 21, 2018 in Japan (Ultra-Vybe, OTLCD-7870).
  7. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in 2018 in the US (Speakers Corner).

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