Concert Review: Santana and Rod Stewart, Mohegan Sun, May 25, 2014

The last time I saw Santana live was during their co-headliner tour with the Allman Bros. in July of 2012. The band’s trend of co-headlining East Coast concerts continues this year with Santana teaming up with Rod Stewart.

I go way back in concert with each of these legendary artists. I first caught Rod Stewart as lead vocalist with the Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East on July 3, 1969. I then saw Santana for the first time live the following year, November 14, 1970 at the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, New York. What’s interesting about both artists is that there was a significant gap in time before I saw either of them again. I re engaged with Santana in August of 2002 (a 32 year gap). I have since seen Santana perform live an extra 19 times (21 Santana concerts in 44 years, 20 of those shows in the past 12 years). I had not seen Rod Stewart perform in 45 years. So let’s do the time warp again ūüėČ

The concert was billed as The Voice, The Guitar and The Songs, Rod Stewart, Santana. The Santana band was the opening act. It’s important to note that this is not the Santana¬†Corazon¬†Tour. If you look at the Santana.com Website you will notice that the Santana Tour dates reflect two different tours, the dates with Rod Stewart and the Corazon Tour.


GALAXY DANCE INTRO
1. TOUSSAINT L’OUVERTURE
2. HOPE YOUR FEELING BETTER
3. BLACK MAGIC WOMAN / GYPSY QUEEN
4. OYE COMO VA
5. MARIA MARIA
6. FOO FOO
7. *CORAZON ESPINADO-(CINDY & BENNY SOLO)
8. JINGO
9. SACALO
10. SAJA/ RIGHT ON/ UMI SAYS
11. SMOOTH/ DAME TU AMOR

*W/ CINDY BLACKMAN-SANTANA

 

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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‚Äôs 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.

‚ÄúWinter In America‚ÄĚ smartly acknowledges the Godfather of Hip-Hop, Gil Scott-Heron with lead vocalist Tony Lindsay (Santana) trading off lyrics with ‚ÄúThe Grouch‚ÄĚ on vocals and rap.¬†The track ¬†is an ingenious remix that commences with¬†Bill Ortiz‚Äôs 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.‚Äôs 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 ūüėČ

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.

 

Bill Ortiz – Highest Wish

Our good friend Bill Ortiz just announced his latest full-release CD, Highest Wish is available for pre-order. If you act now you can get a limited edition signed copy by Bill Ortiz for $15. Pre-orders will be shipping on or about August 15th.

There is also a digital album pre-order option for $9.99. Pre-order of Highest Wish including immediate download of 1 track in your choice of MP3 320, FLAC, or other formats. A link to the complete album will be emailed to you the moment it’s released. You can pre-order this option here.

Visit the Buy/Share Link on Bill’s Highest Wish page here. You can also get an advanced preview of¬†Highest Wish feat. Zumbi of Zion I (Phoenix Black Remix) on that page. It’s tight, check it out.

Or if you’d like click on Bill’ s widget on the right hand side of this blog ūüėČ

Highest Wish officially drops on September 4th.

Highest Wish cover art

I will be writing a review about Highest Wish for Bill on this blog soon.  My wife and I look forward to catching up with Mr. Ortiz at the Santana East Coast shows with the Allman Brothers Band coming up later this month.

Bill Ortiz is the first artist I did an extensive interview for on this music blog in 2009. It was conducted as a companion piece for his first recording, From Where I Stand. We have been collaborating ever since.

I covered Bill Ortiz’s EP release¬†Winter In America¬†earlier this year.¬†Highest Wish¬†expands greatly upon¬†Winter in America.¬†

So stay tuned more to follow about Bill Ortiz and Highest Wish.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today we honor the birthday of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a national holiday. Happy Birthday, Dr. King, born on January 15, 1929.

Stevie Wonder , social activist, was one of the main figures in the campaign to have the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. become a national holiday, and created this single to make the cause known.

I am a student of non-violence and peace who is incensed about the state of poverty in the United States. The division between those who have and those who have-not has never been such a chasm. Today more than 46 million Americans are living below the poverty line the most ever in U.S. history.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his book, “Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community”, a book I was studying from on the day he died, reached out to the issue of¬†impoverishment. I share his words with you in the hopes that we together can Occupy Poverty and wipe it from the face of the earth.

Where We Are Going

from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1967 book
“Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: There are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.

Up to recently we have proceeded from a premise that poverty is a consequence of multiple evils: lack of education restricting job opportunities; poor housing which stultified home life and suppressed initiative; fragile family relationships which distorted personality development. The logic of this approach suggested that each of these causes be attacked one by one. Hence a housing program to transform living conditions, improved educational facilities to furnish tools for better job opportunities, and family counseling to create better personal adjustments were designed. In combination these measures were intended to remove the causes of poverty.

While none of these remedies in itself is unsound, all have a fatal disadvantage. The programs have never proceeded on a coordinated basis or at a similar rate of development. Housing measures have fluctuated at the whims of legislative bodies. They have been piecemeal and pygmy. Educational reforms have been even more sluggish and entangled in bureaucratic stalling and economy-dominated decisions. Family assistance stagnated in neglect and then suddenly was discovered to be the central issue on the basis of hasty and superficial studies. At no time has a total, coordinated and fully adequate program been conceived. As a consequence, fragmentary and spasmodic reforms have failed to reach down to the profoundest needs of the poor.

In addition to the absence of coordination and sufficiency, the programs of the past all have another common failing — they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.

I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.

Earlier in this century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual’s abilities and talents. In the simplistic thinking of that day the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber.

We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are less often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands it does not eliminate all poverty.

We have come to the point where we must make the nonproducer a consumer or we will find ourselves drowning in a sea of consumer goods. We have so energetically mastered production that we now must give attention to distribution. Though there have been increases in purchasing power, they have lagged behind increases in production. Those at the lowest economic level, the poor white and Negro, the aged and chronically ill, are traditionally unorganized and therefore have little ability to force the necessary growth in their income. They stagnate or become even poorer in relation to the larger society.

The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available.

In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote, in Progress and Poverty:

“The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature, and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves, driven to their task either by the lash of a master or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who perform it for their own sake, and not that they may get more to eat or drink, or wear, or display. In a state of society where want is abolished, work of this sort could be enormously increased.” We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished. The poor transformed into purchasers will do a great deal on their own to alter housing decay. Negroes, who have a double disability, will have a greater effect on discrimination when they have the additional weapon of cash to use in their struggle.

Beyond these advantages, a host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security. The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life and in his own hands, when he has the assurance that his income is stable and certain, and when he know that he has the means to seek self-improvement. Personal conflicts between husband, wife and children will diminish when the unjust measurement of human worth on a scale of dollars is eliminated.

Two conditions are indispensable if we are to ensure that the guaranteed income operates as a consistently progressive measure. First, it must be pegged to the median income of society, not the lowest levels of income. To guarantee an income at the floor would simply perpetuate welfare standards and freeze into the society poverty conditions. Second, the guaranteed income must be dynamic; it must automatically increase as the total social income grows. Were it permitted to remain static under growth conditions, the recipients would suffer a relative decline. If periodic reviews disclose that the whole national income has risen, then the guaranteed income would have to be adjusted upward by the same percentage. Without these safeguards a creeping retrogression would occur, nullifying the gains of security and stability.

This proposal is not a “civil rights” program, in the sense that that term is currently used. The program would benefit all the poor, including the two-thirds of them who are white. I hope that both Negro and white will act in coalition to effect this change, because their combined strength will be necessary to overcome the fierce opposition we must realistically anticipate.

Our nation’s adjustment to a new mode of thinking will be facilitated if we realize that for nearly forty years two groups in our society have already been enjoying a guaranteed income. Indeed, it is a symptom of our confused social values that these two groups turn out to be the richest and the poorest. The wealthy who own securities have always had an assured income; and their polar opposite, the relief client, has been guaranteed an income, however miniscule, through welfare benefits.

John Kenneth Galbraith has estimated that $20 billion a year would effect a guaranteed income, which he describes as “not much more than we will spend the next fiscal year to rescue freedom and democracy and religious liberty as these are defined by ‘experts’ in Vietnam.”

The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.

The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

Bill Ortiz, Winter In America, A Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gil Scott-Heron is our greatest urban poet. His words take us beneath the veneer of society where subsistence  merges to form a greater understanding. It is Winter in America, 2012.

Bill Ortiz‘s EP recording Winter In America¬†is a heroic attempt that helps us to avoid despair. The music and the message push us safely back from the precipice of the winter of our discontent.

The opening track ¬†is an ingenious remix of Gil Scott-Heron’s¬†“Winter In America”. It 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.

“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.

Well they say it’s a cold world

But we got a cold play my man

Rest in Peace, Gil Scott

Without you the revolution would not

What makes this EP even more full circle is the track, “I Still Believe”, a Phoenix Black remix with the eloquent spoken word voice of Linda Tillery and “Zumbi” from Zion I accenting with spoken word/rap. “I Still Believe” contains excerpts from Rev. Martin Luther King’s Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo.

The co-operation of Gil Scott-Heron’s revolutionary spirit lives on in his recently published posthumous memoir, “A Last Holiday“. There is a chapter in the book which details the tour that Stevie Wonder and Gil Scott-Heron were on to together where they lobbied for a national holiday for the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Gil Scott-Heron draws the correlation between the assassination of John Lennon and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. two great men of peace struck down by violence. As I write this review we are on the edge of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ¬†birthday and U.S. federal holiday. It just so happens that the¬†Winter in America¬†EP drops on Martin Luther King Day, January 16th, 2012 direct to fans.

Bill Ortiz states the purpose of this recording best when he says, “I try to bring all these elements of who I am musically into one voice.” You’ve done all that and more Bill with your fine achievement,¬†Winter In America.

Winter In America
Bill Ortiz
Released: January 16, 2012
Label: Left Angle Records

Produced By Ali Zandinejad aka Phoenix Black, Bill Ortiz and Steve Heithecker

Track Listing:

1. Winter In America
2. I Still Believe (Remix)
3. Word Play (Remix)
4. I Still Believe (Instrumental)
5. Winter In America (Radio Edit)

Tower of Power

Thursday night my wife and I will attend our 30th concert of the year. We continue to happily do our part as loyal patrons of the arts.¬†The concert features the double bill of Tower of Power with special guests Average White Band. An event that James Taylor would call a “churning urn of burning funk.”

The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, CT is the location for this event. This will be our third show at the Klein this season. It is also our sixth event with The Fairfield Theatre Company as member participants. FTC continues to offer engaging live music options for its patrons, which we are thankful to enjoy. ūüôā

Tower of Power Proof

Tower of Power is another great product of the San Francisco Bay area from the late 60’s. Bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Big Brother, Journey and others all helped to define the “San Francisco Sound.” Tower of Power has been a band I have wanted to see to complete that list (having seen all the others mentioned…).