Carlos Santana is always transforming and creating musical revolutions. The legend sat down with Okayplayer to talk about Power of Peace, The Isley Brothers + growth.
From his younger days in Mexico playing for his father’s mariachi band to most recently supporting DJ Khaled, Bryson Tiller and Rihanna’s heavy sample use of his tune “Maria Maria” for the single “Wild Thoughts,” it seems that every time Carlos Santana is in the room there’s an otherworldly jam session about to happen.
His newest album, Power of Peace, is an intoxicating collaboration of cover songs between The Isley Brothers, (Ron and Ernie) and Santana and his wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, that’s due to be released July 28th. There’s an energy that is potent throughout the album. In the way that Santana likened John Coltrane’s sound to something that rearranges molecular structure, the collaboration of these powerhouses is almost too much to reconcile. The excitement was palpable at the House of Blues in Las Vegas in June where they played songs from the album and the combination of Ernie Isley and Carlos on guitar, Ron’s vocals and Cindy’s drumming was both pyrotechnics on speed and a masterful, meticulously created, detailed sonic painting.
“I was a big fan of Santana,” Wyclef Jean said by phone about working with him on the multi-Grammy winning album, Supernatural, “As a producer it was my dream to work with him. And it was crazy for me to work with somebody who played with [Jimi] Hendrix. I wanted to know then what was the Santana era like, did they feel like they could change music?”
Santana’s story, of course, spans decades. In his first decade he mixed blues and rock originally as the Santana Blues Band, playing at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, jamming with Jerry Garcia, performing at Woodstock, collaborating with Leon Thomas, hanging out and playing with Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, and being influenced by John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. For the following decades he has played and sang with everyone from his band members like Buddy Miles, Pete and Coke Escovedo, Ricky Wellman, Alice Coltrane, Andy Vargas, Michael Shrieve and Greg Rolie to collaborations with just about everyone including Wyclef Jean, Eric Clapton , and Dave Matthews.
Unlike some mishmashes where superstars have come together for a mission album (“We Are the World,” anyone?) Ron Isley and Carlos Santana may seem on the surface like an unlikely duo, but they are spiritual brothers. Coming out of the late ’50s and ’60s, where The Isley’s were confounding the world by blending genres—singing Burt Bacharach, rock-n-roll, doo-wop, gospel, R&B ballads, up-tempo funk, their commitment was to their artistry and it manifested itself in some level of freedom they were able to command in forming their own label, T-Neck Records. In the early incarnation of the band Jimi Hendrix played in the group and lived with the brothers for a period of time. It’s easy to see how they influenced Jimi and Jimi influenced them.
Like Santana, The Isley Brothers have outlasted many groups with 30 studio albums, countless awards and collaborations, and still remained committed to their artistry, constantly making new music.
@Okayplayer got the chance to talk with Carlos Santana and drummer Cindy Blackman Santana about the new album.