Magazine article Guitar Player

Santana, Abraxas

Magazine article Guitar Player

Santana, Abraxas

Article excerpt

SANTANA ISSUED ABRAXAS, their second studio album, in 1970. Although the 48-year-old release isn't always perfect, pound for pound it remains the most focused and concise album from Carlos Santana's group, which at the time featured keyboardist Gregg Rolie, bassist David Brown, drummer Michael Shrieve, and percussionists Jose "Chepito" Areas and Michael Carabello. Consider Carlos' iconic solo on "Black Magic Woman." Most of us know it by heart, and it rings like a familiar nursery rhyme we've heard since childhood. It's the melodic centerpiece of the tune, and a wank-free zone at that.

"Samba Pa Ti," my personal favorite track, made a huge impact on me. It's a powerful, melodic performance, retaining the song's core mood without losing its ability to captivate, something Santana did so well. To me, this instrumental is almost on par with Santo & Johnny's "Sleep Walk": It conjures distilled emotions and captures one's imagination so well that it could almost inspire a book or movie. I still marvel at how Carlos never self-indulgently leaves the scripted mood while effortlessly walking a tightrope of melodic understatement. On "Samba Pa Ti," we are offered a front-row seat to his talent for musical storytelling.

If I were to make the perfect Santana group record, I might Frankenstein Abraxas and Santana III, the latter of which has some "out of the park" home runs. They include "Jungle Strut," which sounds like what you might get if the Allman Brothers were born in Cuba and started a revolution. …

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