Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles: Marbles
Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles Live (Columbia Legacy CK 66416)
Robert Hogins (organ), Neal Schon (guitar), Ron Johnson (bass), Gregg Errico (drums), Coke Escovedo (timbales), Victor Pantoja, Michael Carabello, James Mingo Luis (Lewis) (possibly congas).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: Oahu, Hawaii, January 1972
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
I write this a few short months after drummer Buddy Miles passed away. It's funny how life works. Buddy Miles was in the famous rock group Electric Flag. He went on to play important roles in the music and albums of Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin. He even had a solo worldwide rock hit with his tune "Them Changes." But he was probably best known, and made the most money, from his turn as the voice and creative power behind the California Raisins, a made-up band that recorded three albums based on their successful mid-'80s claymation TV commercials for the California Raisin Advisory Board. The most memorable commercial featured Miles singing "I Heard it Through the Grapevine."
In the late '60s and early '70s, it appeared that Miles was on his way to jazz-rock stardom. When he got together with Carlos Santana for Live, he had just finished a recording gig with John McLaughlin for McLaughlin's Devotion. He had been joined on that record by organist Larry Young and bassist Billy Cox, his cohort in Hendrix's Band of Gypsies. It only made sense that Miles would play McLaughlin's tune "Marbles" with Carlos, who was also beginning his fascination with McLaughlin's music.
This concert was held in the crater of a Hawaiian volcano in 1972. You think there was any paca lolo floating around? I can only imagine. Santana and Miles pretty much copy the original McLaughlin performance. Santana's solo is different from McLaughlin's acid trip because he is Santana. But he is rocking. The catchy scalar riff that is the core of the piece remains thoroughly intact as Miles pounds away. Robert Hogins on his B-3 does a good job being Larry Young. This is a very crowd-pleasing performance but has even more value as a historical look into the beginnings of Santana's fusion interest and Miles's early career.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky