2016 Preview: Santana

Guitar legend Carlos Santana has two projects he’s certain will come to fruition this year, and a couple of others he expects to complete as well.

The first, and most noteworthy, is Santana IV, a project that reunites him with Santana band members from the early 70s, including singer/keyboard player Gregg Rolie and guitarist Neal Schon, the duo who went on to form Journey. The album is recorded, and Carlos plans to have the group on the road to support it.

“It sounds great,” he says. “There’s so much energy. The songs are so vibrant, and I’m really, really grateful. I’ve never heard Gregg sound better; we know he can play, but his voice has never been better. And Neal is one of the baddest guitar players around. It’s just been a great joy all the way, and we can’t wait for people to hear it.”

For his part, Schon, who was just a teenager during his first stint with Santana, is hoping that Santana and Journey will play some shows together, with Santana playing their early material first before giving the stage to Journey – with Rolie playing part of the set – and then bringing Santana back for the IV material.

“We’ll absolutely tour,” Schon promises. “I don’t see a better package out there that is making my eyebrows go up and making people go, ‘Yeah, I want to see that!’”

Meanwhile, Carlos and his wife, drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, are forming a jazz-fusion group called Supernova that will include saxophonist Wayne Shorter, keyboard player Herbie Hancock and guitarist John McLaughlin. He’s planning to make an album with the band during the spring, then in the summer tour in Europe, and possibly North America.

“Can you hear it?” Santana says of the high-powered combination. “It’s kind of like playing with Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, cos Wayne and Herbie are at that level of genius, genius, genius. I’m just grateful that they accept it and want to do it. And every time I play with Cindy it goes viral. People go crazy. The energy between Cindy and I is very, very supernova.”

If that wasn’t enough, Carlos says he also hopes to record “a whole album” with Ronald Isley and Sly & The Family Stone/Graham Central Station bassist Larry Graham, both old friends who he’s been working with recently.

“This is fun. It’s not work. It’s not a labour,” Carlos says. “It’s a joy to do all these things and show up and be there. And every day I’m grateful because I open the faucet and the water comes out and the water is pure. I can drink it, I can brush my teeth, comb my hair, wash my body.

“I have a real thirst for adventure,” the clearly very busy guitarist continues, “so I’m offering gratitude for having energy, having innocence and curiosity to keep finding these new things to do.”

Gary Graff

Gary Graff is an award-winning veteran music journalist based in metro Detroit, writing regularly for Billboard, Ultimate Classic Rock, Media News Group, Music Connection, United Stations Radio Networks and others. Graff’s work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Guitar World, Classic Rock, Revolver, the San Francisco Chronicle, AARP magazine, the Detroit Jewish News, The Forward and others. Graff has co-written and edited books about Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. A professional voter for the Grammy Awards and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Graff co-founded the Detroit Music Awards in 1989 and continues as the organisation’s chief producer.