Only two years may have passed since Santana last visited Ravinia, but in between those couple of sell outs and another pair this season, the guitar god’s been particularly prolific. For starters, he reunited with original bandmates Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, Michael Carabello and Michael Shrieve for the “Santana IV” album and one-off concert DVD, followed by a trip to the studio with The Isley Brothers for the fully collaborative project “Power Of Peace.”
When Santana fast-forwarded to his comeback “Smooth,” the sounds might have been more contemporary by comparison, but the essence of following wherever his agile fingers took the tune returned for another summit in the boundless treasure trove of grooves.
Though he offered a brief sampling of that latest endeavor during Saturday’s sell out, Santana’s “Transmogrify” Tour was stocked heartily with hits dating back to the “Summer Of Love” right up to the relatively recent. “O Paradiso” gave the six-string slinger and his zesty backers a chance to build the vibe, immediately seguing into “Are You Ready” as the pace of Latin-flavored rock picked up to breakneck speed.
For two-and-a-half hours, the 70-year-old superstar churned out several more sizzling rhythms, including “Maria Maria” and “Foo Foo,” along with the whistle-blowing jam “Jingo” and the psychedelic standard “Evil Ways.” Santana and company also turned in flavorful remakes of John Coltrane’s jazzy “A Love Supreme,” Stevie Wonder’s funky “Higher Ground” and Swamp Dogg’s super-charged “Total Destruction To Your Mind” in a thrilling triple play.
Looking back on other trailblazers’ works and peace-promoting messages also prompted the headliner to muse “we need to let our leaders know we are in charge, not [them].” And while his ruminations continued to address several current events that had some cheering and others squirming, Santana insisted he wasn’t talking politics, but rather, offering unifying suggestions to benefit all of humanity.
No matter how one typically casts their vote, everyone could agree the group was absolutely smoking come the classics “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va” with the momentum carrying into the encore for “Soul Sacrifice” with each musician getting the chance to solo (especially drummer and the main man’s wife Cindy Blackman Santana). When Santana fast-forwarded to his comeback “Smooth,” the sounds might have been more contemporary by comparison, but the essence of following wherever his agile fingers took the tune returned for another summit in the boundless treasure trove of grooves.
For additional information on Santana, visit Santana.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at Ravinia include Leslie Odom Jr. (Aug. 13); Punch Brothers (Aug. 14); Dashboard Confessional and The All-American Rejects (Aug. 15); “The Lord Of The Rings”: In Concert (Aug. 18-20); Alanis Morissette (Aug. 25); John Mellencamp (Aug. 26-27); Pentatonix (Aug. 28); Lifehouse and Switchfoot (Aug. 29) and John Butler Trio (Aug. 30). For additional details, visit Ravinia.org.