Devadip Carlos Santana & Turiya Alice Coltrane: Angel of Air / Angel of Water
Angel of Air / Angel of Water
Illuminations (Columbia 483810 2)
Jules Broussard (flute, sax), Tom Coster (electric piano), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (percussion).
Composed by Devadip Carlos Santana & Tom Coster; strings arranged by Turiya Alice Coltrane.
Recorded: unknown date; released September 1974
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
At the time of this recording, Carlos Santana was using the spiritual name Devadip, given to him by his personal guru Sri Chinmoy. Alice Coltrane, John's widow, was also a seeker with a guru of her own. She changed her name to Turiyasangitananda. She later used a shorter version as a first name. Officially, the artists named on this album were Devadip Carlos Santana and Turiya Alice Coltrane.
In the 1970s, Santana's admiration for John Coltrane knew no bounds. This respect went beyond the music. Santana was, as many were in those days, "trying to find himself." Coltrane's spiritual path was of great interest to him. It is not so surprising that one day he would play music with someone who had a connection to the man, the music and the spirit.
Alice Coltrane played piano in her husband's last band. The avant-garde music Coltrane was playing toward the end of his life was very much in her bag. Some angry Coltrane fans blamed her for influencing this last and least popular direction. She responded by suggesting that nobody led John Coltrane anywhere, and that she was playing what he asked her to play.
Jules Broussard's deeply somber flute opens "Angel of Air / Angel of Water," which consists of two parts that can be clearly distinguished. "Angel of Air" is more expressive. "Angel of Water" tends to be more pensive and cleansing. Alice Coltrane is responsible for the impressive string arrangement, providing a wide swath for Santana to do his best fusion ballad playing. Short, beautiful melodies are interspersed with Santana's trademark sustained single notes that must be written off the page because they are so long. It is interesting how these notes can sound so Latin when Santana plays pop music and so otherworldly cosmic when he plays the hymnal-like fusion heard here. Coltrane's harp appears mid-tune. Her playing provides more color than splash, but in context delivers an angelic message.
The orchestral ambience, spiritual overtones, collaborative success and the fusion-guitar anthem make this one of the more fulfilling jazz-rock performances of Santana's career. For some reason, it remains among his lesser-known accomplishments.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky