Corrections or additions?
This article by Richard J. Skelly was prepared for the June 11,
2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Carlos Santana: Forever Young
Like Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana keeps attracting younger
fans. Perhaps the 20-somethings in Santana’s audience are reacting
to all the non-melodic, beat-heavy junk that’s out there.
Whatever the reasons, Santana, who will turn 56 this July 20 and is
in his fourth decade entertaining, sold more than 25 million copies
of his recent album, "Supernatural." Released in 1999, the
album kept selling until 2001. Last year, Santana released
which teams the blues and Latin jazz-based guitarist up with an
bunch of accompanists, including urban contemporary stars Wyclef Jean,
Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Macy Gray, and others.
Santana is at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on Wednesday, June
18, and at the Tweeter Center in Camden on Tuesday, June 24.
To be sure, Santana is staying current, and he even includes a melodic
rap-oriented track on "Shaman," called "Since
with Melkie Jean and Governor Washington providing the rapping vocals.
While some might argue Santana is climbing on the shoulders of these
younger, more popular performers like Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 and
New Jersey’s own Lauryn Hill — where is she today? — both
of whom were showcased on "Supernatural," the reality is they
admire what he’s done. They’ve made it their business to stay in touch
with the San Francisco Bay area-based musician.
"Shaman," Santana’s 2002 release on Arista Records, features
platinum-selling artist Musiq on vocals on the second track,
At All," and the album opens with a song written by tour opener,
vocalist Angelique Kidjo’s "Adouma." "Sideways," a
song that showcases the vocals of Citizen Cope, is a bluesy number
that harkens back to the guitarist’s roots. While Santana’s roots
may be in the blues, soon after his career was launched, the
singer and songwriter seemed to be on a never-ending quest to expand
his musical boundaries.
Carlos Santana was born in 1947, in Autlan De Navarro, Mexico. His
father was a mariachi violinist. Young Carlos took up violin at age
five, but switched to guitar when he was eight. His family moved to
the border city of Tijuana, next door to sprawling San Diego, where
he began playing out in clubs and bars.
In the early ’60s, the family moved to San Francisco. Santana
from Mission High School in 1965. A year later, he formed the Santana
Blues Band, a name that was later shortened to Santana. Thanks to
the late, legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, the band debuted
at the Fillmore West in San Francisco on June 16, 1968.
In September, 1968, Santana played guitar at a concert held at
West by keyboardist Al Kooper, who had recorded with Bob Dylan on
his "Highway 61 Revisited" album. Santana made his recording
debut on "The Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper,"
later that year. A short time later, Santana was signed to Columbia
Records to record a self-titled debut. The group, by then known as
Santana, toured the U.S. prior to the album’s release, building a
"buzz" about the band and its guitarist, who played with the
speed and agility of Jimi Hendrix while playing in his own style,
which used fuzz tones, wah-wah pedals and other then-innovative
In August of 1969, Santana made waves and created an audience of
for their self-titled debut album when the band put on a riveting
show at the Woodstock Festival.
"Santana" was released that same month, and it became a huge
hit, as did follow-up albums, "Abraxas" and "Santana
By 1972 Santana’s original lineup went their separate ways, but Carlos
retained the rights to the group’s name. By June, 1972, he released
"Carlos Santana and Buddy Miles, Live," with the drummer and
singer. That album eventually became a platinum-selling release. After
releasing "Caravanserai" later that year, Carlos formed a
duo with jazz-rock guitarist John McLaughlin. The two shared a
leader with guru Sri Chinmoy, and their collaboration, "Love,
Devotion, Surrender" eventually surpassed gold-selling status
of 500,000 units. After releasing "Welcome," another project
with his now-changed Santana band, Carlos paired with John Coltrane’s
widow, Turiya Alice Coltrane, and recorded "Illuminations,"
released in September, 1974.
Santana continued to push himself in new musical
though most of his collaborating was with ever-changing members of
the Santana band. He released a series of gold and platinum-sellng
albums, including "Borboletta" in 1974, "Amigos" in
1975, "Festival" in 1976, "Moonflower" in 1977, and
"Inner Secrets" in 1978. After "Marathon" in 1979,
which also went gold, Santana went to work with acclaimed jazz
Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Ron Carter to record and release
"The Swing of Delight." That album was released in the summer
of 1980. Santana continued to record in the early 1980s, but most
notable was "Havana Moon," released in the spring of 1983,
his collaboration with country singer Willie Nelson, soul-blues
Booker T. Jones, and the blues rock group the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
"Havana Moon" made it into the Top 40 selling albums for that
In 1986 Santana took on his first film score, writing music for the
Ritchie Valens film biography, "La Bamba." He followed this
with another Santana band album, "Freedom" in 1987 and a solo
album, "Blues for Salvador" in the fall of that year. After
he recorded and released "Sprits Dancing in the Flesh" in
1990, he left his longtime label, Columbia Records, and signed with
Polydor, which allowed him the luxury of his own custom label, Guts
and Grace. Santana recorded and released "Milagro" in the
early 1990s but more important, his late 1994 release, "Santana
Brothers" featuring his brother Jorge and their nephew, Carlos
Hernandez, charted briefly and was nominated for a Grammy award that
year for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
Throughout his recording and performing career, Santana has continued
to challenge himself as a musician. He learns all he can in the
of collaborating with others in traditional blues — such as John
Lee Hooker’s early 1990s release, "The Healer," which features
Santana’s blistering guitar riffs — traditional jazz, Latin jazz,
and Afro-Cuban jazz — and more recently urban contemporary hip-hop
and rap. With the 1999 release of "Supernatural," which won
Santana an incredible eight Grammy Awards, he was back on top. Like
any seasoned blues or jazz musician, Santana would tell you as he
gets older, he’s getting wiser — and better.
— Richard J. Skelly
$25 & $63. Wednesday, June 18, 7 p.m.
856-338-9000. $10 to $55.50. Tuesday, June 24, 7:30 p.m.
Carlos and Deborah Santana are donating the net proceeds from
Shaman Tour to benefit Artists for a New South Africa [ANSA] Amandla
AIDS Fund supporting South African organizations battling AIDS.
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