We gave it a B-
The new albums by Al Di Meola and Jean-Paul Bourelly are object lessons in the diversity of outlook within fusion. Di Meola, who made his mark in the mid-’70s with the supergroup Return to Forever, has, with Kiss My Axe, made his first nonacoustic record in nearly five years. Although his longish compositions meander a little, the bright passion of his playing lights the way: Breezy, Brazilian-tinged ideas distilled from fellow jazz-guitar hero Pat Metheny are mixed with the pyrotechnical flash that Di Meola fans will eat up. Trippin’, Bourelly’s second album, features what he calls ”blue wave” music, which is his own blend of jazz, funk, blues, and more avant-garde sounds. Instrumentally, he weaves together the hot-to-the-touch blues of a Jimi Hendrix and the technical/conceptual jazz rigors of a John McLaughlin. Vocally, Bourelly cops a loose ‘n’ soulful approach, but mainly his wily guitar — somehow at once warm and snarling — is the important thing. He’s one of the most exciting players on the scene at the moment.