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Published: 2015/12/15
by Jeff Tamarkin

Santana & McLaughlin
Invitation to Illumination – Live at Montreux 2011

When John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana recorded their collaborative Love Devotion Surrender album in 1973, it was a gift to their mutual spiritual master, Sri Chinmoy. When the two guitar icons met up again at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2011, the love and devotion—for each other—were still very much there. Although their playing styles are markedly different—McLaughlin the proto-fusion god and Santana, well, Santana—the two musicians’ mutual reverence for the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and other jazz game-changers makes for an ideal starting point. And even as they veer into other territories—one medley includes both Dylan and Zeppelin, and the closing track, “Shake It Up and Go,” is a John Lee Hooker tune that brings out the grit and guts in both of their playing—there’s no denying the respect at the core of their jams. Still, it’s the music from Love Devotion Surrender (they play all of it except McLaughlin’s “Meditation”) and the jazz classics that bring out the heart, and just maybe some of the surrender. Accompanied by an all-star band, including drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, Carlos’ wife, the band and its co-leaders transform Trane’s “A Love Supreme” and “Naima,” Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan” and tunes from drummers/frontmen Elvin Jones and Tony Williams into juggernauts of guitar-based nirvana. And the pair of Miles numbers, “Right Off” and “Black Satin” (which manages to travel through both Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and the ‘60s garage hit “Land of 1000 Dances”) just about reignites the fusion movement singlehandedly.

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