About ten minutes into watching the massive concert experience that resulted in the two-disc Santana Live At Montreux 2011, I managed to wrap my mind around two things. One was the idea that at this point in the game, Carlos Santana has become the 800-pound gorilla and therefore has earned the right to call all the shots for himself musically. And the other is that the guy is a damn fine musician.
It's not that I haven't been told this on numerous occasions by rabid Santana fans all in a lather, but rather that I've never been able to catch the man in concert myself. This was rectified during the 204-minute surround-sound experience I had in a darkened basement while snacking on Toblerone chocolate and drinking root beer.
I'll admit I went in a little blind, not having the full impact of being a fan before becoming immersed in the show, but I found myself continually impressed by the guitar playing and the established musicians he surrounds himself with during this summer night in Montreux. All the old favorites are here as well as some new numbers to add spice to the mix and you'll see an appearance by new bride and well-respected musician in her own right, Cindy Blackman Santana.
This is a man whose career spans over four decades with a vast and varied musical catalog to pull from. Here we see that his passion for performing hasn't waned an ounce since he let it all hang out at Woodstock, and for that his fans appear truly grateful. The bonus features were a little thin, but perhaps the music just needs to speak for itself without an overabundance of backstage footage and interviews.
Longtime admirers of his work will no doubt want this for their collection but maybe a few young whippersnappers could learn a thing or two from a career this long and triumphant.
Santana Live At Montreux 2011 is now available.