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Carlos Santana - The Swing of Delight CD (album) cover

THE SWING OF DELIGHT

Carlos Santana

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.50 | 26 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Coming just one year after his previous Oneness album, this album is very much in the same musical vein, but it appears a bit less philosophy-induced, even if Carlos cedes his rights to Sri Chinmoy on three tracks, but no less excellent. But this album has a stellar cast of guest that most real jazz artistes would only dream of: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Ron Carter are present on over half the tracks while the rest of his group is present as well on the other tracks. As opposed to Oneness this album is more about semi-lengthy tracks (and the album clocks in at a whopping 57 minutes which was remarkable for a vinyl) which are mostly instrumental.

While the album is a full-fledged jazz-rock fusion product of its time, I find that the usual flaws of many of those albums are not present on this one. While the music can hover between Weather Report, Spiro Gyra and Return To Forever on the one side and Mahavishnu Orchestra on the other side, it mostly retains that typical Santana sound. Right from the almost 7-min opening scorcher Swapan Tan, you just know that the jazz-rock will be steaming and streaming out of your speakers like a floodgates overcome by the Carlos tsunami. There are of course some calmer moments (would it still be a Santana album without those?) such as Spartacus (a gradual sublime crescendo with Carter's bass just being awesome), Phuler Matan (and its Arabic-Spanish intro) or the delightful Song For My Brother (which we imagine is Jorge) where Carlos shines like a solar eruption.

Jahma Kala is one of scorching track where the funk bass and the ever-inventive drumming (Lear in this case) just allow for the soloists to wail but not at the expense of the track's cohesion and Gardenia is much in the same vein; Sticking out like a bit sore thumb (but more like it is out of place rather than bad) is La Llave Latino-anthem. Golden hours is a very funky track with a flute soaring over the track before a sudden shift brings it around to more Voodoo-like influences and Carlos and the boys are just tearing our brains apart with a series of high flying solos reminiscent of RTF. The closing Sher Khan is a calm outro, not far from cool jazz.

Graced with a strange abstract artwork, which might be a bit misleading (especially compared to its jazz-rock predecessors), this album is another jewel in Carlos' crown, and a very instrumental jazz-rock excellence example, this album is a real must-hear for JR/F fans. Very close to 4,5 stars, but not flawless either, this often overlooked gem is only waiting for the progheads to unleash its charms.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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