Sunday, January 20, 2008

Santana - Ultimate Santana (2007)

Santana - Ultimate Santana

Career Overview

Carlos Santana is one of those rare guitarists whose sound is instantly recognizable. His fiery, soulful blend of rock, blues, and Latin music made Santana an international success. From '60s San Francisco psychedelia to '70s fusion to later pop crossovers, Santana has remained a respected, influential force in music. Though Santana had scored hits from the late '60s to the early '80s, the band operated under the mainstream radar for much of the '80s and '90s until the multi-platinum 1999 "comeback" album SUPERNATURAL, studded with pop-star collaborations, brought them a whole new audience.


This important US band pioneered Afro-Latin rock and, as such, remains head and shoulders above all pretenders to their throne. Formed in 1966, they rapidly transcended the late 60s San Francisco new wave scene from which they emerged, and, over the past 25 years, guitarist Carlos Santana (b. 20 July 1947, Autlan de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico) has introduced jazz and funk into their unique blend of polyrhythmic music. Carlos owns the name, and has maintained his role as leader through a constant change of personnel, while fully maintaining the Santana sound of 1967. The original line-up comprised Gregg Rolie (keyboards/vocals), Michael Shrieve (b. 6 July 1949, San Francisco, California, USA; drums), David Brown (b. 15 February 1947, New York, USA), Marcus Malone and Mike Carabello. Later important members were Neal Schon (b. 27 February 1954, San Mateo, California, USA; guitar), José Chepito Areas, Tom Coster, Armando Peraza, Raul Rekow, Graham Lear, Orestes Vilató and Coke Escovedo.

Caravanserai marked a change of style following the demise of the original line-up (Rolie and Schon departed to form Journey). This important album is almost a single suite showing a move towards jazz in the mode of Miles Davis' In A Silent Way. At that time Carlos became a disciple of Sri Chimnoy and, after befriending fellow guitarist John McLaughlin, he released the glorious Love Devotion And Surrender. The same year he released a live album with soul/funk drummer Buddy Miles. Welcome (featuring vocalist Leon Thomas and guest McLaughlin) and Borboletta (with guests Flora Purim and Stanley Clarke) were lesser albums. He returned to hard Latin rock with the excellent Amigos in 1977, while a version of the Zombies' "She's Not There" reached UK number 11 in October.
In his parallel world Carlos maintained a jazz-fusion path with a series of fine albums, the most notable of which was The Swing Of Delight with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. Zebop! in 1981 was a tour de force, with Carlos' guitar playing exhibiting a clarity not heard since the earlier albums. The hit single from this collection was the admirable Russ Ballard song "Winning". The solo Havana Moon featured guests Willie Nelson and Booker T. Jones, although the difference between what is solo Santana and band Santana had become almost irrelevant as Carlos is such an iconoclastic leader.
Beyond Appearances in 1985 maintained his considerable recorded output. The same year he toured with Bob Dylan to ecstatic audiences. He scored the music for La Bamba in 1986 and reunited with Buddy Miles in 1987 to record Freedom. In 1989 Santana's contribution to the title track of John Lee Hooker's excellent album The Healer was arguably the highlight of the set. This featured one of his most sparse, yet breathtaking, guitar solos. During the summer of 1993 the band toured South America and a live album, Sacred Fire, was released. At the same time Carlos also put his own record company, Guts And Grace, onto the market, beginning with a compilation of classic live performances from original artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye. In 1994 Santana appeared at Woodstock II, rekindling memories of their incendiary performance at the original festival. The line-up in 1995 featured Tony Lindsay as vocalist.
Any association with the name Santana continues to be a positive one; whether with the band or as a solo artist, Carlos Santana is an outstanding figure in rock music and has influenced countless aspiring guitarists. Recent compilations such as Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent and Live At The Fillmore emphasize his steady influence and consistency over four decades. He received the Billboard lifetime achievement award in 1996.

Santana - Ultimate Santana

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