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Carlos Santana: Hymns For Peace: Live at Montreux 2004

Carlos Santana gathered together his dream band for this gala concert held at Stravinsky Hall in Montreux, Switzerland on July 15, 2004. Backed by drummer Dennis Chambers, former Miles Davis bassist Benny Rietveld, longtime Santana keyboardist Chester Thompson and percussionist Karl Perazzo, the rock guitarist wails with ferocious abandon alongside such jazz greats as John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.

The eclectic program on this two-DVD set finds Santana and company alternately addressing pop anthems like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On,” Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Bob Marley’s “One Love”(with vocals provided by Patti Austin, Angelique Kidjo, Barbara Morrison and Sylver Sharp) and digging deeper on more profound fare like John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” Joe Zawinul’s “In a Silent Way” and “Jingo,” a Latin-flavored jamming vehicle from Santana’s 1969 self-titled debut.

Throughout the program, Santana unleashes with signature flair and lyricism on his warm-toned, infinitely sustaining solidbody Paul Reed Smith guitar. That sound remains one of the most instantly recognizable voices in contemporary music.

On a rendition of “Afro Blue,” Shorter turns in a stirring tenor sax solo while Ravi Coltrane nearly upstages his elder with an intensely soaring soprano sax solo. Hancock, ever the instigator in these all-star proceedings, stretches the harmonic fabric of that Mongo Santamaria tune to the max on his adventurous grand piano solo, while Corea plays it more inside on Fender Rhodes electric piano.

On an earthy “Boogie Woman,” a Santana original inspired by bluesman John Lee Hooker, McLaughlin adds his inimitable speed licks to the proceedings as Hancock again plays the harmonic provocateur on grand piano. Steve Winwood makes a brief appearance playing Hammond B3 organ and singing on Traffic’s ’60s anthem “Why Can’t We Live Together.”

Guitarist Nile Rodgers (of Chic fame) and former Weather Report drummer Omar Hakim (on percussion) guest on a super-charged rendition of “Jingo,” and there’s a hint of a Latin undercurrent on their inspired version of “A Love Supreme,” which spotlights the heroic tenor work of Shorter.

For a rousing finale, a 120-voice choir serenades Santana and crew with a grandiose rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Santana seems caught off guard by this surprise gesture, but eventually the guitarist and others from his all-star aggregation join in on the familiar melody to close this Hymns for Peace concert on a powerfully uplifting note.

Originally Published