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Carlos Santana - Illuminations (with Alice Coltrane) CD (album) cover

ILLUMINATIONS (WITH ALICE COLTRANE)

Carlos Santana

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.15 | 56 ratings

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Eetu Pellonpää
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A really singular and holy recording from Carlos Santana, who sadly in my opinion has got his fame from commercial productions too often left on levels of secular Latin partying, in spite of the spiritual devotion of the maestro himself - I agree though that the world would be sadder place without secular Latin partying. Maybe the contrast to his radio hits also makes his spiritual recordings shine ever more brightly. This symphonic celestial revelation, conjured with Alice Coltrane and other ace musicians like Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, really reaches the heights only by angel's wings one can venture. Album mingles together the jazz impressionism, Santana's unique psychedelic guitar tones and harmonies from both European and Indian classical music elements, forming an unique apparition of beauty.

The voyage begins from the meditative aphorism of Carlos' Guru "Love is God's life-bless within us". The chant and this recitation directs the orientation towards religious mystic experiences, being embodied first by two visions of angels, one for air and another of water. Alice's string arrangements, Dave's firm and soft bass lines with ethereal waves from the cymbal plates allow the angels speak trough Santana's fingers upon his guitar's frets. I felt special enjoyment from the ethereal background of this movement for Carlos to play, instead of the strong rhythm presence I often have found dominating his major albums. The harp motive from Alice possibly changes the seraph of airs to the one from waters, cinematopic symphony layers strengthening her blissful characteristics. Saxophone of Jules Broussard is also allowed to have quite much space, and the composition waves calmly from celestial peaks to peaceful moments of all-devouring god's love. The portraits of these elementary heralds lead to the bliss of infinity being realized from the current moment, everlasting in the history from now on. This powerfully orchestrated ethereal sequence swirls with vastness of ecstatic confrontation of universal eternity. The divine movement holds only quite light emphasis for the guitar, allowing much space for piano, harp and symphonic orchestra's string powerful dramatics. The third angel holds the element of sunlight, conjured from oriental circling themes and grandiose yearning of amplified solo guitar call, being answered from Indian drums and bow-played upright bass prayers. The sonic carpet rich with mythical details is revealed after few minutes for more concrete melodic solo passages for guitar, saxophone and keyboards, powered by Jack's identifiable drum turmoil and solidly flowing jazz bass foundation. A really shimmering quart of an hour, the merging of solo instruments leading to the culmination peak opening the gates for the spiritual target of the voyage; Illuminations on sublime piano and string borne symbol of religious hope are decorated with gentle symbols of Carlos and Alice's tonal art.

Though slightly naïve and syrupy like religious and mystic encounters might be, the yearning for happiness and infinity is evidently transmitted from the harmonic yearnings of the closing tune. I like very much Carlos' earlier work with McLaughlin on their "Love Devotion Surrender", but however I adore the charms of this religious record even more, maybe due the presence of sacred feminine mystics uniting with power of masculine potential, these contrasting powers allowing more harmonic potentials being realized on this unique album.

Eetu Pellonpää | 5/5 |

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