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 😉
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.
Santana got things started in vigorous fashion. They began their set with “Toussaint L’Overture”an instrumental that really pops fromSantana III. Once they had us up and dancing the band segued into “Hope You’re Feeling Better” followed by the classic, “Black Magic Woman”.
Santana continued to mine Abraxas with “Oye Como Va” (Tito Puente). I was disappointed that the video screen above the band did not display the full video that accompanies this song. That video is a concert favorite as it shows many of the Santana album covers interspersed with Santana historic moments. The video is well sequenced and greatly enhances the popular Latin standard.
I watched with keen interest the new members of the Santana Band. Conquero Raul Rekow (since 1978) has been replaced by a powerful conga player in his own right, Paoli Mejias. He played with intensity and precision. Here is a video image of Paoli from the Sunday night concert along with an enhanced photograph of his congas.
“Corazon Espinado” from Supernatural featured Cindy Blackman Santana on drums, where she performed a tasteful drum solo.
My favorite part of the set followed next as “Jingo” got us in that tribal mood. The next choice, “Sacalo” featured our good friend Mr. Bill Ortiz on trumpet. “Sacalo” is the Spanish version of “Chill Out”, which Carlos recorded with John Lee Hooker in the 90’s. I loved hearing a Spanish extended blues number. It set the stage for the next song trilogy, “Saja/Right On/Umi Says” which comes from the Milagro album which is dedicated to the late Miles Davis and Bill Graham who we lost in 1991. Bill Ortiz really got down with his horn playing and to my ear channeled Miles Davis. The 90 minute set ended with “Smooth/Dame Tu Amor” and yes Santana Made It Real 😉
Rod Stewart followed next in sharp contrast with a 12 piece band of young male and female musicians. It was very much the Las Vegas act where Rod Stewart performed his hits against an interactive graphic backdrop.
Carlos Santana joined Rod Stewart for one number, the Etta James classic, “I’d Rather Go Blind”. My earlier thoughts about Bill Ortiz channeling Miles were validated by Carlos Santana who wore a T-Shirt that stated, “Listen to Miles Davis”. I found this meaningful when I learned the very next day was Miles 88th birthday. So I listened in-depth to Miles on his day out of respect.
Here is a taste of that song and other hits from Rod and his band.
Rod Stewart also featured an acoustic section of the show and he performed my favorite song of his written by Tim Hardin (who I saw many years ago at Staples High School in Westport), “Reason to Believe”. He also kicked and threw into the audience two dozen signed soccer balls. I found Rod Stewart to be the dandy who came across charming and genuine as a person.
Santana Set List:
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)
10. SAJA/ RIGHT ON/ UMI SAYS
11. SMOOTH/ DAME TU AMOR
*W/ CINDY BLACKMAN-SANTANA
Jack Bruce is a natural craftsman. He continues to hone the craft of the bass guitar finding creative ways to play and use the 12 notes we have available.
I flash upon the Cream song from Fresh Cream (1966), N.S.U. that has the line, “The only time I’m happy’s when I play my guitar”. I can feel that sentiment running across the smile of Jack Bruce.
Bass Guitar Magazine celebrated their 100th issue with Jack Bruce on the cover recently (There’s that smile again). I downloaded the back issue on to my Apple iPad Air. The article “Just Jack” contains a chat about his new album.
Silver Rails – Drops on March 24, 2014, Label: Esoteric Antenna
The Special Edition features two disk Audio CDs and a DVD that shows the recording of Silver Rails at Abbey Road Studios. Silver Rails is available for preorder here.
Silver Rails is a warm collection of carefully crafted songs written in partnership with lyricists Pete Brown, Kip Hanrahan and Margrit Seyffer.
Jack Bruce is working on his first studio album in nine years. It is now in the writing and recording stage. Jack’s new album, Silver Rails is due to be released at the beginning of March 2014.
Silver Rails is being recorded at Abbey Road Studios featuring contributions from drummer Cindy Blackman Santana and keyboardist John Medeski. Bruce, Blackman Santana and Medeski, along with Vernon Reid of Living Colour recorded a jazz fusion album under the name Spectrum Road in June 2012. I wrote about this recording/touring nucleus in 2102 here.
An auspicious reunion, 40 years on, will be taking place at the 45th Montreux Jazz Festival tomorrow evening, July 1. The event is entitled Invitation to Illumination. The event stars Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin and features members of Santana and John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension band.
Invitation to Illumination
CARLOS SANTANA & JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
Featuring: Cindy Blackman Santana, Dennis Chambers, Etienne
Mbappé, Raul Rekow, Karl Perazzo & David K. Mathews
Cindy Blackman Santana will be representing the role of Tony Williams on the drums. Cindy has represented Tony Williams ably before in the Tony Williams Tribute Band, Spectrum Road.
We saw John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension last year at The Town Hall in NY City on November 13, 2010. John McLaughlin announced that night that he and Carlos would be playing and recording together in Europe in 2011. Invitation to Illumination is the live edition of that aspect of the promise fulfilled. It is my private hope that more recording time has been spent between Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin.
It would be a wonderful follow on to 1973’s Love, Devotion and Surrender.
On July 1st, Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin will play together at the Montreux Jazz Festival. This “Invitation to Illumination” celebrates their 40 years of friendship.
” There are festivals, and there is Montreux. For me and hundreds of other musicians, Montreux is Claude Nobs. The great festival of Montreux came from Claude’s passion for Jazz and Blues almost 45 years ago, and has grown from its humble origins to the greatest Jazz/Blues, R ‘n B, Soul, Pop and Rock Festival in the world. Of course we know that there is a fantastic team working with Claude, but Claude’s presence and personality are an integral part of the atmosphere of Montreux. I have a very close relationship with Claude and Montreux since I’ve been going there for the past 40 years!
Naturally enough, when I had the idea to make a 40 year (almost) reunion with my brother guitarist Carlos Santana, Claude was the first person I spoke to about this project, he loved the idea, and here we are 9 months later getting ready for a concert that I for one, will never forget. The concert is called ‘Invitation to Illumination’. To some people, this title probably sounds a relative to the name of our record together ‘Love Devotion & Surrender’.They’re right in the sense that both Carlos and I believe in humanity and its essential oneness. The recording 40 years ago, and the concert today, is a call to the light in people. Illumination is not some ‘pie in the sky’ hippy slogan. Illumination is something we all were born with, and will have for our entire lives. All it means is that a big light has been turned on in your mind and heart. What we see when this light is on, is that we truly are one human family. Further, not only are we one family, but we all live on this beautiful ship called Earth, and that we are getting to the point that if we do not take care of each other, we won’t have much of a ship anymore, and we have nowhere else to go.”