Santana: Collaborations & Cameos
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There is but a single musician on this big, strange planet of ours who can claim to have actually recorded with Alice Coltrane and Chad Kroeger, Miles Davis and Shakira, John McLaughlin and Rob Thomas -- and that musician is none other than Carlos Santana. With this year's release of the classic rock icon's latest collection of duets, Corazón, I programmed a playlist of highlights from the myriad collaborations and cameos Santana and his guitar have racked up since the late '60s (back when his group more or less invented the Latin rock movement). Naturally, you should expect to hear the smash hits "Smooth" (with Rob Thomas), "The Game of Love" (featuring Michelle Branch) and "Cry Baby Cry" (starring both Sean Paul and Joss Stone). But you also will be treated to selections I rounded up while scouring the deeper recesses of his sprawling catalog. The Lauryn Hill spiritual "To Zion" is a super cool find; so is the funkified rendition of "Evil Ways" (a Santana calling card) that he and drummer extraordinaire Buddy Miles recorded for their 1972 live set Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles: Live!
For those of you familiar only with the Santana of Supernatural and Shaman fame, the deepest of the deep tracks surely will blow your mind. For instance, "Illuminations" -- the title cut of an avant-garde jazz album he recorded with multi-instrumentalist and world-fusion innovator Alice Coltrane in 1974 -- is utterly far out and light years removed from the pop accessibility of "Smooth." The same has to be said of Santana and guitarist John McLaughlin's rendition of the John Coltrane composition "A Love Supreme." Featured on 1973's Love Devotion Surrender, an album inspired by the musicians' then spiritual master Sri Chinmoy, the piece finds the pair fusing percussion-rich Latin rock and searing jazz fusion. Seriously folks, this playlist is so magically diverse that by its conclusion you will be tempted to think Carlos Santana really is supernatural.