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Santana - Abraxas CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.24 | 583 ratings

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5 stars One of the first Rock bands I ever heard is SANTANA, since my childhood when I went to my friend's houses to play, their older brothers and sisters were listening this fantastic band, and when I started to listen music, SANTANA was one of my first choices, but something I could never understand is his addition to Prog Archives as Jazz Fusion band.

There's no doubt SANTANA should be here, but for his contribution to the San Francisco Psyche scenario and the fascinating blend of Latin music with Rock, but their roots are in the Son Cubano, Salsa and Caribbean rhythms, by no means in Jazz Fusion. This doesn't mean that "Santana" never includes some Jazz elements, but not remotely the pre-eminent sound in my opinion

The problem of the term Latin Jazz is that it's used to group a multitude of genres by people that don't understand Latin American music under a moniker that they understand. Only Latinos are aware of the richness of genres and sounds of this part of the world, and we don't label every fusion of our music with Rock under Latin Jazz. But the important thing is that he's here and we can have the pleasure of reviewing their best albums.

After the solid self titled debut, SANTANA had to at least repeat the success, but they went further, in "Abraxas" they define the music of the band placing more emphasis in the Afro Cuban sounds rather than in rock, creating a unique sound.

The album starts with "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" by Michael Carabello, a clear introduction to the album in which the subtle organ and the congas create a mysterious atmosphere that falls over the audience as a thick mist, if ever SANTANA was close to Fusion is in this short track.

"Black Magic Woman", a Psychedelic fantasy written by Peter Green and inspired in Gabor's Zsabo's Gypsy Queen, that allows "maestro Carlos Santana" to exploit his skills with the electric guitar, while Gregg Rolie adds his characteristic voice and the fantastic Hammond that creates the dreamy atmosphere so characteristic of the late 60's....Simply brilliant.

"Oye Como Va" by the legendary timbales genius "Tito Puente" adds the touch of pure salsa only softened by the atmospheric organ and the brilliant guitar solos by "Carlos Santana" that makes of this song a timeless classic.

"Incident in Neshabur" by the Blues pianist "Alberto Gianquinto" with arrangements by "Carlos" Santana is a weird fusion of Rock and Jazz with Congas and Timbales, absolutely dramatic and heavy with all the revolutionary spirit of the 60's. The performance of Greg Rolie in the keyboards is outstanding.

"Se A Cabo" is the only track by "Josť Chepito Areas" in this album, and against what could be expected, the emphasis is not placed in his beloved percussion, but in the combination of keyboards and guitar, only in the middle a timbales break reminds us of the author of the song, but without the Hammond sound, this song would not be remotely as good.

"Mother's Daughter" is a frenetic Greg Rolie song where Carlos can display his guitar abilities with pleasure. The raspy voice of Greg is so characteristic that makes the track impossible to be sung by any other vocalist. Probably the less Latin oriented track in the album, but doesn't sound out of place at all.

When the first notes of "Samba Pa Ti" by "Carlos Santana" can be heard, thousands of memories of a long time gone childhood come to my mind, sweet, soft and mysterious, with one of the best performances by Carlos, and Rolie puts the cherry on the top of the pie with his tortured Hammond. This time instead of taking a lead role, the percussion instruments enhance the beautiful music. My all time favourite Santana song.

"Hope You're Feeling Better" is a typical product of the late 60's, pure Psyche Rock with aggressive vocals, dreamy guitar and more tortured Hammond, if it wasn't because we know it well, we could believe this Greg Rolie song was played by a different artist.

The original album ends with "El Nicoya", pure Afro Caribbean sound based almost exclusively in a complex percussion, not bad, but if you ask me which track I like less, would mention this one.

My version of "Abraxas" was released in 1998, and contains three bonus tracks from SANTANA'S historical performance in the Royal Albert Hall on 1970, including the outstanding live versions of "Se A Cabo", "Toussaint L'Overture" and "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen", that allows us to listen the live performance of this classics.

Of course, no review would be complete without mentioning the colourful and extremely beautiful art cover by "Roberto Venosa" a magnificent work that looks almost like a mural by the great Diego Rivera with a touch of Salvador Dali.

"Abraxas" is the definitive SANTANA album and for that reason defines an era, solid and essential masterpiece, no form to rate it with less than 5 stars.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |


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