Carlos Santana - photo by Michael Sherer
Carlos Santana has a new and first time all Spanish language CD out called Corazón, and he’s on tour for it. Carlos Santana has been performing since the late 1960’s, getting a huge and very early break with 1969’s Woodstock Festival in upstate New York with approximately 500,000 people in attendance. Venues and its audiences are a big part of the concert experience. For this concert, a tennis stadium in Queens, NYC was the locale. Opened in 1923, the newly renovated and reopened Forest Hills Stadium has about 13,500 seats, with some 1,200 of them having been added in the lower section. It’s been about twenty years since it was last used for a concert, and it was ‘77 that it ceased to be used for professional tennis and the U.S. Open championship.
The place looked to be at full capacity, with a wide cross section of fans. This is a very good thing, as it’s indicative of timeless and quality music that appeals to all ages, ethnicities and genders. Santana himself is of Mexican descent, and grew up in the Bay Area of Northern California. San Francisco was, of course, an absolute hotbed of counter cultural activity during Santana’s formative years, so he was in the right place at the right time.
At sunset on this fine weathered summer evening, Carlos Santana, 68, wandered out on stage while playing. He chewed gum for most of the show, and said very little. He let his highly emotive and distinctive guitar playing speak fore him. He did say “We aren’t lip-syncing,” referring to dual vocalists Andy Vargas and Tony Lindsay. He then added “We never learned how to do that shit!”
Santana has a stellar band. It consists of bassist Benny Reitveld, keyboardist David Mathew, percussionists Karl Perazzo and Paoli Mejías, trumpeter Bill Ortiz, trombonist Jeff Cressman, drummer Jose “Pepe” Jiminez and co guitarist Tommy Anthony. It was very rhythm heavy, which I love. Overall the music is a tantalizing fusion of rock, Salsa, Latin, blues, jazz and African music. It’s exciting, rich, intelligent and very accessible. Many in the crowd were dancing, or at least swaying to the music. This continued throughout the two hour set.
The stage set up was simple, with a big screen in the back to easily see the action. It was really the music that was made priority. Carlos remained calm throughout and focused on his playing. After all, he has a Guitar God stature to maintain. Santana is a very spiritual person, and perpetually searching for inner peace and truth. He’s been quite involved with meditation and the guidance of swamis since the early ‘70’s. He always has a framed photo of his swami on the side of the stage, to his right, atop his Mesa/Boogie amplifier.
After the band exited the stage upon putting out for those two hours, the crowd made it loud and clear that they wanted more. The band didn’t disappoint when letting loose with the classic Peter Green song Black Magic Woman, then Gypsy Queen, Oye Coma Va and Toussaint L’Ouverture. The crowd stood and swooned to end an outstanding night of music, emotions and sizzling Latin spirit.
Love Makes the World Go Round
Freedom in Your Mind
A Love Supreme
A Place with No Name
Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
Oye Coma Va