Santana - Abraxas - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Santana - Abraxas

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:10 Release Date:1970-09-11
Santana - Abraxas
Santana - Abraxas

With the second official album into his career, Carlos Santana brings everything to the table, all his musical background, knowledge and love. Sure, the great band he had behind him played its part, best exemplified in one of the stellar performances at the Woodstock festival a year before, but it was Santana’s vision after all.

Through essentially rock medium, he was able to channel more or less everything that was done so far - blues, all shapes of jazz, his Latin musical background, announcing, at the same time, the Seventies ascendancy of genres like fusion and spiritual jazz, something he devoted a good part of his musical career later on.

It all starts with the album cover, at the time when such by-product was actually a piece of art that signifies what you are about to hear when you put that black platter on the turntable (unless, at that time, you played the damn thing on one of those reel-to-reel tape players). All those ultimate hippy colors, flying angel with a conga drum between its legs, a black (magic) woman...all.

It all starts with “Singing Winds, Crying Beasts”, introducing all those rock audiences to what they can hear if they tune their ears to some spiritual jazz and its concept of incorporating sounds from different musical genres. Then comes the jazz/blues combination of “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”, the Gabor Szabo’s jazzy ‘woman’ filtered through the Fleetwood Mac blues inflections added by Santana’s own vision.

“Oye Como Va” is Santana showing where he came from, a salsa tune done for rock audiences, while “Incident At Neshabur” is introduction to jazz fusion and all those Miles Davis electric experiments, without the excesses that were brought on by Billy Cobham, Stanley Clarke, and John McLaughlin, incidentally one of Santana’s later collaborators. Like “One Como Va”, “Se A Cabo” is a set piece for all the Latin rock inflections that ensued, while “Mother’s Daughter” is rock, plain, and not so simple, just brilliantly played.

Then comes “Samba Pa Ti”, one of the most played pieces of music in recent history, so played that quite of a few people got sick of it, just at its mention. But that is certainly not Santana’s fault. Listening to it after a while just confirms the fact that it still boasts one of the best guitar solos around.

The two closers, “Hope You’re Feeling Better” and “El Nicoya”, are just confirmation of what those fans that were enamored with Santana’s music that preceded Abraxas, already had in their ears and mind, that he was a great rock musician with a background in Latin music.

What ensued, was III, an album that was more or less Abraxas, part two, but great nonetheless, and Caravanserai, a spiritual jazz/rock, and probably unjustly one of the most underrated albums around. After that, the band itself was practically no more, Santana himself devoted most of the Seventies to spiritual jazz, and his rock fans went somewhere else, until his commercial resurrection (in every sense of those words), at the turn of the century with Supernatural. In retrospect, Abraxas stands as one of best of Santana’s works, as an album that represents one of the pinnacles of San Francisco’s late Sixties/early Seventies concept of cross-pollinating music.

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