Music Review – Highest Wish By Bill Ortiz

 

Bill Ortiz

Highest Wish

Left Angle Records

Highest Wish cover art

Music is the form of expression which resides deep within our soul. Like John Lee Hooker always said, “The blues in you and its gotta come out”. Bill Ortiz’s latest recording, Highest Wish  unearths our soul of musical expression through his unique spiritual healing voice.

Carlos Santana recently stated before a live audience, “Our highest wish is to touch your heart and remind you that you are significant.”

Tommy Anthony, Carlos Santana, Bill Ortiz and Jeff Cressman

Bill Ortiz responds to that wish by creating spiritual voices through his gift, the trumpet, which resonates inside the music of our heart.

Highest Wish begins this welcome dialogue with the song, “Ha-Ya (Means Life)”. “Ha-Ya” is a spirited romp with vocals by Luqman Frank and Omega Rae who coax out just the right positive accenture from Bill Ortiz’s trumpet.

The song, “We Are What We Are” starts as a rap by Casual then effortlessly evolves into skin-deep jazzy, r&b  rhythms. The interplay between Casual and Bill’s horn keeps us focused on the relevance of the lyrics. The message is we are the same affected by the agony and pain of social injustice.  Luqman Frank and Femi Andredes lend vocal help to push that message along.

The track, “Highest Wish (Phoenix Black Mix)” featuring Zumbi of Zion I is a plaintive melody with the recognized wisps of a Carlos Santana guitar-lke ending.

“Since You’ve Been Gone” is a testament to a Mother’s memory. Lugman Frank invokes his best vocal groove on this number. He and Bill Ortiz become locked in a strong harmony. Together they ask her return to fill the void inside a son’s respectful heart.

“Winter In America” smartly acknowledges the Godfather of Hip-Hop, Gil Scott-Heron with lead vocalist Tony Lindsay (Santana) trading off lyrics with “The Grouch” on vocals and rap. The track  is an ingenious remix that commences with Bill Ortiz’s horn compelling us to take heed and listen. The track is gutsy and edgy. It crystallizes our attention on what is really going on in the streets across America.

Rest in Peace, Gil-Scott

Without you the revolution would not

“I Still Believe” is another Phoenix Black remix of an inspirational track which features Linda Tillery invoking a charismatic spoken word rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from Oslo, Norway (1964). Zumbi of  Zion I complements and embellishes the spoken word with rap as the truth rings out a poetic wisdom that encircles every heart that listens with historic humility.


“Do Your Thing” is an Issac Hayes song originally found on the Shaft Soundtrack (1978) as a 19:24 minute opus. Bill Ortiz’s R&B cover flows smoothly through the co-operation of Santana veterans  Tony Lindsay on vocals, Andy Vargas (samples/drums programming), Chester Thompson (C.T.) on organ and Bill Ortiz (trumpet, flugelhorn).  I can visualize the camaraderie in the studio when this track was laid down. Listen as Tony excitedly sings, “C.T. play for me, C’mon” and does he ever 😉

This is my favorite track on Highest Wish due to the sizzle and infectious groove it achieves. Santana fans will gravitate to this track and it will help attract a new base of fans for Bill Ortiz. This is a good choice for radio play if singles are still a viable option in promoting an artist’s music.

“Don’t Make Me Wait” is a danceable soul ditty that will have you moving your shoulders and tapping your feet. Cait La Dee is the featured vocalist who livens it up and in turn is joined by K-Maxx with a soulful rap interplay. Bill plays his horn enthusiastically like a salt and pepper shaker seasoning the song which just the right flavah.

“Full Circle” the Andy Vargas remix takes us out. It is the perfect instrumental to end the recording as we sail into the night, more at peace than we began this sonic journey.

 

Santana Shape Shifter, May 15th on Starfaith Records

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Track Listing:
1. Shape Shifter
2. Dom
3. Nomad
4. Metatron
5. Angelica Faith
6. Never The Same Again
7. In The Light of a New Day
8. Spark of the Divine
9. Macumba in Budapest
10. Mr. Szabo
11. Eres La Luz
12. Canela
13. Ah, Sweet Dancer

LOS ANGELES, March 27, 2012 –/PRNewswire/ — Shape Shifter is Carlos Santana’s 36th album, and the first for his new label, Starfaith Records. Set for release May 15, the 13-song set is an instrumental tour de force featuring tracks spanning from the late 1990’s to the present.  It’s powered throughout by Carlos’ instantly recognizable virtuoso lead guitar and the Santana Band’s world-class musicianship (only one song features vocals from Santana’s lead vocalists Andy Vargas and Tony Lindsay).  Pre-sale of Shape Shifter begins today,March 27, at all major online outlets including iTunes, Amazon and more. Starfaith Records is distributed and marketed in conjunction with RED Distribution.

Carlos dedicated the album to Native American Indians, acknowledging Australia’s 2008 apology to the Aborigines, and President Obama’s signing of the 2009 Native American Apology Resolution. He says, “I encourage any and all countries (that have not as yet done so) to acknowledge the first people of their land, and make this a collective global effort.”

Shape Shifter comprises mostly original compositions that Carlos has been stashing away for such an instrumental project—long awaited by fans—and he conceived the album’s sequence as thoughtfully as its track selection. The songs flow together as the magical sustain of Carlos’ guitar—and the spirit behind every note—makes music that breaks through all cultural and language barriers, the music of Santana.

The title track opens the album, beginning as a mellow acoustic groove, with Carlos channeling Native American spirits through chanting.  The track builds to soaring heights—in addition to Carlos’ driving lead, the song features Dennis Chambers on drums, Chester Thompson on keyboards, and Benny Rietveld on bass (they are the musical foundation on many of the tracks).

Other highlights include a mid-tempo cover of Toure Kunda’s “Dom” —Carlos and the Toure brothers’ collaborations have also included “Africa Bamba” from the GRAMMY-winning album, Supernatural.  Angelica Faith, which Carlos co-wrote with Thompson, is a signature Santana ballad in the tradition of “Samba Pa Ti” and “Europa.”  With “Mr. Szabo,” Carlos pays homage to Gabor Szabo, whose music he brought to the fore in 1970, when he fused the Hungarian jazz guitarist and composer’s “Gypsy Queen” with Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman” on Abraxas.

Collaborations include “Never the Same Again,” which Carlos wrote with producer Eric Bazilian, and “In the Light of a New Day,” which began as a demo that Narada Michael Walden shared with Carlos. “Spark of the Divine”—often played on tour to introduce songs including “Black Magic Woman”—leads in to “Macumba in Budapest,” the first of two songsCarlos co-wrote and produced with Walter Afanasieff—the song vamps into a classic Santana Latin jam featuring Raul Rekow on congas and Karl Perazzo on percussion. The second, “Eres La Luz,” the only track featuring vocals, highlights the irresistible Latin groove that embodies the world music essence of Santana.

Shape Shifter closes with two songs that are collaborations between Carlos and his son, musician Salvador Santana—who plays piano on both—including the rousing “Canela.” The final track, “Ah, Sweet Dancer,” is a song Carlos first heard in a taxicab in Germany—he tracked it down in a local record store and began performing it regularly on tour. The recording features only soulful solos from father and son, offering elegant closure to Shape Shifter.

Sunshine of Your Love – Daily Post 2011 #5

Sunshine of your love
Image via Wikipedia

This post is about the song Sunshine of Your Love performed by three legendary guitarists.

Cream in 1968 had their first hit with the song “Sunshine of Your Love”. It was Cream’s only gold-selling single in the United States. It was written by Jack Bruce, lyricist Pete Brown, and Eric Clapton. What I find interesting is how the song relates to Jimi Hendrix. Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton attended a Jimi Hendrix concert at the Saville Theatre in London prior to the invention of the main riff of “Sunshine of Your Love”, which Jack Bruce created after the concert. The riff can be directly attributed to Hendrix’s style of playing, echoing in Jack Bruce’s head.

Pete Brown wrote the lyrics in that same all night session with Bruce. Clapton later added the bridge and Ginger Baker, the syncopation of African drums.

altJimi Hendrix recorded “Sunshine of Your Love” on February 16, 1969 at Olympic Studios in London. It appears on the 2010 Valleys of Neptune as a previously unreleased studio recording. The Hendrix track is an instrumental featuring The Jimi Hendrix Experience nucleus (Jimi Hendrix, Guitar, Noel Redding, Bass and Mitch Mitchell, Drums) plus Rocki Dzidzornu on percussion.

Valleys of Neptune

Carlos Santana recorded “Sunshine of Your Love” with Rob Thomas on vocal and Santana band backing them up on his CD Guitar Heaven. I have seen Santana perform “Sunshine of Your Love” twice live with Andy Vargas very ably handling lead vocal. 

STCD61