It was a small sensation when three years ago the old Santana Band with Mike Shrieve, Gregg Rolie and Michael Carabello got together again and released the album "Santana IV". Now Carlos Santana has completely reshuffled his group and recalibrated its stylistic orientation. In the midst of feverish, congas-fired Latin rock, an ancient voice suddenly rises: Africa speaks!
In 1969, Carlos Santana released the first album of his band, named after him. Two weeks earlier, the band had played in Woodstock; 30 years later, he presented the great comeback work "Supernatural". And today, another 20 years later, the guitar virtuoso born in Mexico can once again be reckoned with. The album "Africa Speaks", on which the 71-year-old receives vocal support from the Spanish Buika and the English Laura Mvula and which was produced by Rick Rubin, has all the ingredients of a late classic: great melodies, great energy and joy of playing, endless groove and some of Santana's greatest guitar moments. To emphasize are the brilliant "Batonga" as well as the epic "Candombe Cumbele", on which drummer Cindy Blackman Santana delivers a musical duel with her husband.
We have an appointment for a telephone interview with Carlos Santana. The musician stays in his headquarters in San Rafael, a barren suburb of San Francisco. He has the week off before his tour continues. A slight cawing in the voice suggests a cold, but Santana is still the best.
eclipsed: On the occasion of Woodstock's 50th anniversary, it is planned that you will play at the "Bethel Woods Music And Culture Festival" in mid-August at the original venue in the state of New York, among others with Ringo Starr.
Carlos Santana: Yes, and I am very happy about it. To perform again in Woodstock after 50 years is the greatest thing of all.
eclipsed: Which guitarist do you like better? The 22-year-old Carlos Santana on stage in Woodstock or the 71-year-old artist of today?
Santana: Today I have more power, more clarity and wisdom. I am much more aware of what I do on the guitar and what effect it has. Our instruments like electric guitar, congas or Hammond organ as well as the desire for improvisation - all these elements are still as present today as they were then.
eclipsed: So age can't hurt you?
Santana: I know and experience many people who are at most half as old as I am, but behave twice as old: prematurely aged, disillusioned, unimaginative people. How they talk, how they leave! That's not who I am, and I hope I never will be. I am still very hungry for life and for new adventures. There are 17-year-olds who are older in their heads than I am today.