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Santana - Welcome CD (album) cover

WELCOME

Santana

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.48 | 143 ratings

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Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer
3 stars In his previous album, Caravanserai (1972), it was clear that the original band was falling apart, although they were still capable of delivering an excellent work, one of their finest. But the the cracks were showing: keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Rollie and guitarrist Neal Schon wanted to rock more, Carlos Santana and drummer Michael Shrieve wanted to go deeper into jazz, while original bassist Dave Brown and percussionist Michael Carabello were already sacked. So in the end, With Rollie and Schon out to form the highly successful Journey, only Shrieve (and Carlos, of course) remained by the time Welcome was released. It was a radical change of musical direction. Although Carlos Santana was still playing a very melodic and relatively simple guitar style, he surrounded himself with the best jazz musicians he could find to ensure the new direction.

The mix was very different from Caravanserai or even Mahavishnu Orchestra (his partnership with guitarist John McLaughlin on Love Devotion And Surrender suggested something in that way). In fact he seemed to be less influenced by John Coltrane and the jazz rock movement in general than veering into the latin jazz fusion of early Return to Forever and Airto Moreira. The presence of Moreira's wife, singer Flora Purim, on one track is no coincidence. Santana's new musical approach was closer to the brazilian instrumental scene of the time than anything: he had already recorded the celebrated brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim's Stone Flower on the previous album and the vocal tracks sound a lot like Bossa Nova stuff. In fact, the rock element of Santana's original sound is almost completely wiped out. There are flutes, sax, electric pianos solos all over, and not very much guitar. The sole exception is the 11+ minute Flame Sky, where John McLaughlin guests and shares songwriting credit. Flame Sky sounds like something left over Love Devotion And Surrender, and it is interesting to see the duel between Santana's melodic and soulful lines in sharp contrast with McLaughlin's all skills and no heart, marathon note, style. Like the aforementioned album is much ore fitting to Mahavishnu Orchestra than anything the Santana band has ever recorded, before and after.

In few words, Welcome sounds like almost nothing Santana did before. One can admire his nerve to go into such radical change of musical direction (CBS CEO and a great admirer of Carlos said to him the LP was "a career suicide" upon listening to the complete album at the time). The end result is a pleasant enough latin/light jazz album, with a few touches of prog here and there (the opener Going Home is a good example of the latter). Overall a nice, unusual album for Santana (and he would further explore the genre in his next release, 1974's Borboletta). Not my favorite Santana phase of his long career, but it was an interesting experiment. 3 stars.

Tarcisio Moura | 3/5 |

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