At home the heart rises. With the American guitar genius Al Di Meola, that definitely happens in Munich. He moved here eight years ago because of his newly ignited love for his now wife Stephanie. They lived on the Isar for three years, had a daughter, enjoyed the English Garden, the restaurants, and Di Meola enjoyed going to concerts in the nightclub of his favorite hotel, the Bayerischer Hof. That’s what he said when he came back for a day the other day. “We loved Munich, oh my God!”
Maybe it’s also a bit because the world star got involved in this project with the band, which is not exactly famous all over the world, not even at home Silverpark. At least Di Meola gladly took the opportunity to stop by Munich at least once on his European tour, not for a concert, but for a video shoot in the Bayerischer Hof. In fact, he then played for the first time himself on the Jazz-Keller stage. Concert venues, for one of his size, are the Philharmonie, the Prinzregententheater and the Circus Krone, he remembers the 1974 concert well because that’s when it started. At 19, Chick Corea had him in his legendary fusion band Return To Forever fetched. “50 years on stage, can you imagine that?” Probably not, if only because Di Meola looks 20 years younger than his 68.
During Corona, he felt like a pensioner at home in his birthplace New Jersey, he says. He was sitting on the patio with friends, drinking wine, wanting to cook for them, and his Stephanie said, “Why don’t you stream that live right now?” The kitchen show was spontaneously great, he had fun and said jokingly: “You can all come, I’ll cook for you!” Fans from South America to Asia immediately wrote in the comments: “Here we come. How much does it cost?” The idea of ”home events” could work, he thought, and in fact many supporters were attracted by prices ranging from $7,500 for two (“meet, greet & eat”) to €16,500 including a private concert or a lesson and one of his played guitar.
How much Claus Lehner paid remains unknown. The amateur musician and boss of Silverpark has been a fan for a very long time. About since he released the guitar gods trio album “Friday Night At San Francisco” by Di Meola, Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin alongside beatles and Pink Floyd sorted. Lehner is a sensitive singer-guitar player-songwriter, but also energetic (he’s CEO of rental giant Dawonia). He really wanted to experience a “home event”. And because the new Silverpark album “Endless Sleep” was just being recorded, he sent Di Meola the last song and asked if he would like to play along. It was “Chelsea Hotel” by Leonard Cohen, his main inspiration. Although Di Meola had nothing to do with the notorious New York bohemian club (“It was more like punks, I can’t stand that crap”), he loved what little he knew from Cohen, new experiences were always good, he thought the cover version was worthy of his sleight of hand, and “it turned out to be quite a lot of fun.”
Even such a premium event becomes routine for the provider at some point. The guests then want to know something about guitar technique, how you can play so incredibly fast and precisely and percussively, for example. He likes to perform it, although that’s no longer important to him, that was when he was young, he says, the fast-paced Fusion years, the older he gets, the more relaxed he sees himself as a composer. Most ask him about “Friday Night,” the instrumental event that sold millions of live LPs. There was also a “Saturday Night” at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater. Di Meola had stored the recordings in his crawl space for 40 years, just when he was in Munich they came out on the Hamburg label Ear Music: the same energy, again jazz, fusion, flamenco, but completely unheard pieces, and again the ones with recorded audience ecstasy. “Saturday was just as hot, we sorted it out too early at the time,” says Di Meola in Munich.
But he gets really emotional in the nightclub when he is asked about the homeland of his ancestors: Cerreto Sannita in Campania. How his wife Stephanie whisked him there after a show in Naples, how the streets were lined with villagers, the “Welcome home!” banner, the Di Meola crests on many doors, and the door his grandfather, a fireworks manufacturer, behind him when he emigrated to the USA. “I was at home.”
Then he talks about the raisins his father cooked in everything, even meatballs. But, one digresses … In New Orleans, Claus Lehner got burrata, figs, imported Parma ham, pasta according to Mama’s recipe, veal cutlet and the guitar tracks that Di Meola recorded within two hours – the culmination of a really fine, shockingly quiet, like Cohen’s Plate.
Friendship is in the room and in the information about the record. Otherwise, would Di Meola have come to the video shoot and allowed him to be named a “Featured Artist”? And the day after the shoot, Al got an email from Montreal. From his hotel suite he looked at a 30 meter high Leonard Cohen mural, he wrote: “There are no coincidences.”