(All Album Reviews by Burgess Penguin)
Michael Shrieve - Drums
Neal Schon - Guitar
Hadley Caliman - Saxophone
Tom Coster - Keyboards, Piano (Electric), Vocals
Mel Martin - Saxophone
Armando Peraza - Percussion, Vocals
Lenny White - Percussion
JosÚ Chepitˇ Areas - Percussion
Gregg Rolie - Organ, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
Bob Fereira - Saxophone
Wendy Haas - Piano, Keyboards
Tom Harrell - Trumpet
James Mingo Lewis - Percussion, Piano, Vocals
Jules Powell - Trombone
Doug Rauch - Bass
Rico Reyes - Percussion, Vocals
David Rodriguez - Guitar
Douglas Rodrigues - Guitar
Tom Rutley - Bass
Mike Shrieve - Drums
Carlos Santana - Guitar, Percussion, Vocals, Producer
Carlos Santana and Co. had always been ones to blaze new trails in their early years, but this particular release, Caravanserai, is particularly notable in that it marked the most radical and adventurous change of direction for the band.
Here, Carlos Santana felt confident enough to really let his most advanced and challenging musical influences jump to the front. One can hear the strains of late-period John Coltrane's modal explorations, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew period experiments and Middle Eastern modalities mixing themselves into Santana's already distinct brew of Latin, Blues, Jazz and Rock. Bringing onboard an impressive supporting cast of San Francisco's finest jazz players in varying configurations, Santana paints vivid musical colors and worlds quite unlike its previous releases, or any thereafter.
The first 3 songs blend together effortlessly, starting with the lone call of a shepherds horn (actually done on tenor sax to a background of crickets), the band builds layers of pulsating rhythms and soaring melody that seems to evoke images of a desert caravan beginning its journey just as the sun rises, and into the first of only two vocal tunes on the album "Just In Time To See The Sun", a typically strong outing in the vein of the previous Santana albums, but with more of a mystical, spiritual bent. Gregg Rollie's swirling Hammond organ and gritty vocals give this song lots of oomph too, same could be said of "All The Love In The Universe", the only other vocal song.
"Future Primitive" is an interesting juxtaposition of ensemble percussion and low subterranean sounds that are more felt than heard. The remaining cuts prove so strong and hypnotic that it's hard to tear yourself away.
The rest cannot be adequately described, but rather experienced. Let Caravanserai entrance you and you'll see why this Owl had plenty to hoot about!