Carlos Santana & Mahavishnu John McLaughlin: Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord

Carlos Santana was a bit apprehensive about recording Love Devotion Surrender. He had become so enamored with John McLaughlin's guitar playing and spiritual path, that he had followed McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra around on tour. During that time the two became friends. McLaughlin introduced Santana to his guru Sri Chinmoy. Santana, who had been looking for a new direction in his life, became a Chinmoy disciple. The concept of the album would be built around the players' spiritual road and their joint love of the music of John Coltrane. (To them, this was really one and the same.) But Santana worried about whether he was up to the task of playing with McLaughlin.

Once in the studio, Carlos discovered that he had plenty to say, as this nearly 16-minute track shows. Based on a traditional hymn, it begins with some of the most expressive electric guitar you will ever hear from two disparate players. Slow melodious calls and responses dominate the opening strains. The back and forth becomes more intense. Drums and congas center the rhythm. Yasin's (Young's) organ is from the First Church of Fusion. The calls and responses escalate to full frenzy. Clearly this was music played from an altar. It all ends triumphantly with the opening theme as coda.

Carlos was not as technically gifted as John. His backing chords were not as advanced. He didn't have the sheer velocity of McLaughlin. But he had an instantly recognizable style with true soul. As much as one might pooh-pooh the spiritual aspirations of these musicians if that is your wont the fact remains that they themselves felt that spirit, and gave it intense expression in their music.

February 20, 2008 · 0 comments


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