It’s a remarkable experience to see an artist at the creating and crafting at the pinnacle of their career. When years upon years of experience informs both every note and the space between each note. Where shifting between complex rhythms looks effortless. Where there is obvious joy and energy drawn from the process of creating and recreating each song and each melody within each song. And then to see a group of musicians do it together. To both draw from and contribute to each other. It becomes truly a thing of beauty.
Santana performed at the Ak-Chin Pavilion on Friday night, June 30 in a Live Nation produced show. While Carlos Santana and his guitar work were clearly the star of the show, the super-tight 3-person percussion section played a strong supporting role. At times it was tough to figure it out was leading whom. Santana was out front but the percussion section, especially drummer (and Santana’s wife) Cindy Blackman Santana, often wrested control from him and seemed to lead the way (insert snarky comment here if you must).
That’s not to take anything away from percussionist Paoli Mejias and Karl Perazzo. Mejias played a tremendous solo during Jingo that was truly inspired. Following Jingo the band went right into a mash-up of Evil Ways and A Love Supreme, during which the interplay and back-and-forth between the band members was just spectacular to listen to and appreciate live.
One of the themes that Santana came back to throughout the evening in addressing the audience was that, “You are important, you are beautiful, you are meaningful, and you can create miracles.” It’s a theme he would repeat throughout the show. In comments about halfway into the show, Santana proclaimed:
Beauty is a word that elevates you. Joy is a word that uplifts you. Love ignites you and elevates you. We want to use words tonight to invite you, gently to remember who you really are. You are significant, you are meaningful and you are worthy of abundance of divine blessings and miracles… We are one family. We are one heart. We are one love. All You Need Is Love – the Beatles. One Love – Bob Marley. So This is the place that I invite you from the center of my heart to look in the mirror and say, ‘I am significant. I am meaningful. Iam worthy of God’s grace. I can create miralcles and blessings’…God bless you. Be kind to one another.