The legend of Carlos Santana has returned with his latest addition to his mammoth discography. ‘Corazon’, which was born to celebrate the Latino energies and culture of all things south of the U.S border and places a vitalised Carlos with a host of collaborators, including Gloria Estefan, Ziggy Marley and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. The guitar master uses his preferred method of communication by creating a dialogue between himself on guitar and the chosen vocalist.
The album opens with a vibration of latin swagger. Saideira consists of Santana and Samuel Rosa, who performs in Spanish. The latin percussion and brass explode through the air like fireworks, bursting the listener into life. The energy of the track is contagious and exotic. Santana flows alongside the track. His tone is soft but crunches in the lower register and screams in the upper. The performance feels like a block party simmering in the evening equatorial sun. The latin spirit perseveres despite any shortcomings, the essence of which has been exquisitely captured in this performance.
The album hopes to merge Santana’s idiosyncrasy with various styles and manners of a range of artists. The result of one such recipe provides the standout of the work. Iron Lion Zion, which was originally performed by Jamaican hero Bob Marley with his band The Wailers, and on this occasion is recreated by Bob’s son Ziggy, featuring Carlos in his usual position. The charming formulation has all of the honesty and rebelliousness of the jamaican rasta spirit, whilst Carlos draws his caribbean neighbours close with his guitar wizardry. The balance of the track is perfect and is almost impossible to pass without listening again immediately. The Spanish vocal interlude wonderfully bridges the gap between the cultures and the sense of community is fortified. The applause by apparent bystanders breeds an all around feeling of cultural brotherhood.
The attempts to bridge the gap between different musical factions however does not sail smoothly throughout. Oye 2014 is an attempt at creating a modern version of one of Carlos’ most iconic creations, the 1970 track Oye Como Va. The rehashing features Pitbull and would for all intensive purposes sit comfortably in any albums bloopers box. The sleazy Cuban is shameless in his destruction of a classic in an attempt to merge the modern and historic. The charmless self promotion and arrogance of ‘Pit’, who is perhaps most famous for his loyalty to bad trousers, puts an asterisk on the work. The smooth collaborations hit a major speed bump in Oye 2014.
The album although slightly derailed is not fatally injured. Yo Soy La Luz is a jazz inspired track which features saxophonist Wayne Shorter as well as drummer Cindy Blackman, Carlos’ wife. The seductive bass and shimmering drums sway hypnotically across the track like a cobra. The experimental rhythms and exchanges of jazz are encapsulated magnificently. Carlos floats expertly over a percussive piano, whilst the drums ignite. Shorter sweats sound. His expertise is mesmerizing to hear. The whispering repetition of the word,’ sexy’ would be tacky anywhere else, but the masterful performance and successful seduction render the listener consensual.
The flow of the album is somewhat stifled at times but this is mostly due to the shifting styles of the creations. At first listen, Santana’s performance seems monotonous but as the tracks are revisited the style appears solidified and confident. The experimentalism takes place in merging this expected style with others. Carlos’ ability to say so much or so little without shifting his sonic personality shows the true weight of his brilliance.