Carlos Santana is preparing to release new music…
The 71-year-old Mexican American musician, considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, will first release a Mona Lisa EP on January 25, and then a new album produced by Rick Rubin.
“A lot of musicians, for whatever reason, they get stuck in a jukebox from the ’60s or ’70s or ’80s,” Santana, who has been keeping busy with a MasterClass session on the art of the guitar, tells Billboard. “I call it regurgitation nostalgia, and I don’t want to be there. I learned from Miles (Davis) and Wayne (Shorter) and Herbie (Hancock) to keep moving and keep discovering. Yes, honor those (old) songs because people do come to see you, but make them fresh, restructure them with innocence and meaningfulness and significance but move on into the next level, which is 2019 and 2020.”
Mona Lisa is a three-part suite that was inspired by a visit to see the actual Mona Lisa at the Louvrein Paris. The opening “Do You Remember Me,” which was produced by Rubin, is an elegant tone poem that incorporates some of the onstage improvisations Santana has made a part of his live performances of the Supernatural hit “Smooth.” “In Search of Mona Lisa” — produced, along with the closing “Besame Mucho – Lovers From Another Time” by Narada Michael Walden— is more upbeat and “more radio friendly, along with Bo Diddley,” according to Santana. Jazz bass legend Ron Carter guests on “Besame Mucho” as well.
“These pieces were coming along,” Santana says, “and after the second one my wife (Cindy Blackman) said, ‘Hey, this sounds really great. Why don’t we try another one and do a trilogy?’ I saw the Mona Lisa and the creative started from me having enough gratitude and confidence from all the things I learned from my teachers.”
The full album, meanwhile, will be out “between spring and summer,” according to Santana, the product of 10 days in the studio with Rubin during which he and his band recorded 49 songs. “And they’re killin’, man — you won’t believe the energy in the songs,” Santana gushes. “There were only two or three songs that we did twice — everything else was done in one take, and we were doing, like, five to seven songs a day. It feels like a blur. They’re all African music from different musicians I love. I’m not bragging, but I have this spirit with the band that they trust me to say ‘That one’s done, let’s go to the next one…'”