Montreal, Friday, June 26, 2015 — The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presents this year’s Miles Davis Award to renowned American guitarist Al Di Meola. The trophy will be presented to him by André Ménard, artistic director and co-founder of the Festival, at a press conference which will be held today at 3 p.m. in the Salle Stevie Wonder of the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan.
Al Di Meola will be the 22nd recipient of the Miles Davis Award, created for our 15th anniversary in 1994 to honour a great international jazz musician for the entire body of his or her work and for that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom. The bronze statuette was created from a self-portrait by Miles, sketched for the Festival poster in 1988.
A legendary guitarist hailed for his flamboyant playing and his impeccable, dazzling technique, Al Di Meola has spent 40 years establishing himself as a jazz fusion virtuoso of the first order fusion, creating his very own inimitable musical world within the genre marked by a multitude of Latin influences. A native of New Jersey, Di Meola started off behind the drums at age 5 before taking up the guitar two years later, joining his school orchestras. He then fell in love with country music before turning to jazz after attending a concert by Larry Coryell. In the early ’70s, he interrupted his studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for a stint with the quintet led by pianist Barry Miles. In 1974, Chick Corea invited him to join jazz fusion group Return to Forever, which had just lost its guitarist. He would remain for three years, during which RTF reached new heights of popularity. After releasing 3 albums in 3 years as a solo artist, he formed a super trio with Paco de Lucía and John McLaughlin in 1980. Their album Friday Night in San Francisco would sell over two million copies. In the mid-’80s, he once again went solo. Now more concerned with feel than technical prowess, he engaged with less-familiar musical genres. In 1988, he made his first visit to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, where he would quickly become a regular. At the turn of the millennium, he would launch some of his most interesting musical experiences, including the original World Sinfonia project, with its Spanish, Argentinean and Middle Eastern flavours. At the Festival, we also recall his 2008 visit alongside Corea, Clarke and White as part of the exceptional Return to Forever tour, as well as his tremendously popular 2012 cross-Québec concert tour with Le Festival de Jazz en tournée. This summer, the guitar legend offers fans the full measure of his versatile talents with his latest electric tour, Elegant Gypsy & More, Electric Tour 2015, tonight at 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA (Grands concerts Rio Tinto Alcan series).
Al Di Meola is the latest in a series of Miles Davis prizewinners. He follows Terence Blanchard (2014), Charles Lloyd (2013), Ron Carter (2012), Stanley Clarke (2011), Sonny Rollins (2010), Ornette Coleman (2009), McCoy Tyner (2008), Mike Stern (2007), Brad Mehldau (2006), Dave Holland (2005), Keith Jarrett (2004), Joe Zawinul (2003), Chick Corea (2002), Michael Brecker (2001), Charlie Haden (2000), Cassandra Wilson (1999), John Scofield (1998), Herbie Hancock (1997), Wayne Shorter (1996), Pat Metheny (1995) and John McLaughlin (1994). Please note that Dave Brubeck was also presented with a special-issue Miles Davis Award last year in recognition of the entirety of his career.
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