Album: Lotus Reissue
Release Date: 01/06/2017
This has long been my favorite Santana album. Unfortunately, many people are not familiar with it, so this reissue is most welcome. Lotus was originally issued as 3 LPs back in 1974 from a tour in Japan. Dubbed as “The New Santana Band,” this unit was a fusion-jazz ensemble that embraced the work of Miles Davis and others, added the stellar vocalist Leon Thomas, and found a way to incorporate major hits like “Black Magic Woman,” Oye Como Va,” and “Se a Cabo” into what are mostly extended jams that go from spiritual to mind-blowing. As good a tune as “Black Magic Woman” is, Thomas takes it to a whole new level.
Carlos’ guitar may actually be more prominent here than on any Santana record. Not only that, but by this time he was a far more accomplished player than the one we heard at Woodstock and on the first few Santana albums. Songs such as “Every Step of the Way” and “Incident at Neshabur” feature long, spiraling solos that just keep reaching higher and higher, as he is propelled by a thunderous rhythm section, grooving B3, and pulsating electric piano. “Samba Pa Ti” rings with far more intensity here than it did on Abraxas, where it was far from shabby. These are the best solos Carlos has ever delivered; gorgeous in tone and emotionally rendered, with shifts in tempos and dynamics along the way. Even though this is more like a blues-rock piece than fusion-jazz, it has the lifting spiritual quality of Coltrane in places yet it is totally ELECTRIC. Incidentally, Carlos nods to a Coltrane passage of “My Favorite Things” in “Incident at Neshabur” so you get an idea of what he was aiming for.
Turn this album up!! This band liked to play loud and they completely blew away the Japanese audience. My bet is they will do the same to you.