Known for his Latin and Jazz-infused rock fusion, Santana is no stranger to musical evolution. Long before world music established its firm roots in the contemporary soundscape, Carlos Santana’s tunes had a universal appeal. Transcending musical genres, the artiste’s sonic energy and spiritual mysticism often showcased the spirit of oneness and love.
In an exclusive interview to City Express, Santana shared his love for music and admiration for artistes like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan.
“It is a great opportunity for me to play in a land that is so diverse in music, culture and philosophy. My real connection to India came in the 60s not because of The Beatles but it was Indian musicians who showed us American artistes another way to express our spirituality. Also, some of my dear friends Alice Coltrane and John McLaughlin introduced me to the beauty of spiritual principles. I would like to connect with everyone and remind them that no matter what we are all one. The mind may create fragments but the heart is just one,” said the multiple Grammy award winner who performed in the city on Friday.
The 65-year-old musician was accompanied by Raul Rekow (congas), Milton Chambers (drums), Karl Perazzo (percussion), Benjamin Rietveld (bass), Anthony Lindsay (vocalist), William Ortiz (trumpet), Thomas Maestu (rhythm guitar), Jeffry Cressman (trombone) and David Mathews (keyboard).
Casting his spell on music aficionados, Santana opened his set with a tribute track Stop over in Bangalore/Yaleo. As the evening progressed, the guitar guru played his trademark numbers including Maria Maria, Oye Como Va, Samba Pa Ti, Esperando and Europa.
Creating ripples with his intricate melodic strains, Santana experimented with a diverse range of sonic colours with Black Magic Woman.
According to Santana, there have been several musicians who have inspired him over the years.
One of the main highlights of his life includes playing with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams.
“Of course, there have been several blues musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and B B King who have had great influences on me. I believe that Blues is honest and pure. Another musician who has helped me appreciate the foundation of African music better is Babatunde Olatunji who I collaborated with for one my albums Jin-go-lo-ba. My heart is open to collaborate, learn and share my music with all. Who doesn’t love to create a song and touch people’s hearts? It is such an honour for me to embrace the challenge and try out different styles. Well, I am a universal note that is trying to be one with all. And, that is my identity,” said Santana who also felt that music is the language of unity and harmony.
So when did his tryst with music begin? It was his father who got him interested in music at a very young age.
Before Carlos Jobim, whose music was played almost everywhere back then, the musician grew up listening to Agustin Lara from Mexico.
Santana believes that music is universal and is a great way to connect with each other. “Music should be inspiring and talk about life. Through my work, I would like to share the elegance and beauty of my country. I live in a land that is a social experiment but as Desmond Tutu would say ‘We are all a work in progress. The painting is not yet complete’. I come from US bringing the spirit of music and spiritual triumph,” he signed off.