Carlos Santana Releasing New Music Early Next Year

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.

Carlos Santana

“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…'”

Santana Planning to Release New Solo Instrumental Album

Carlos Santana isn’t just planning a two-year residency at Las Vegas’ House of Blues… He’ll soon be releasing a new solo instrumental album just two weeks after commencing his Vegas gig.

It’s the first of three albums the 64-year-old Mexican rock guitarist has planned for the near future.

Carlos Santana

Shape Shifter is the personal album,” he says of the disc that’ll be released on May 15. “One album will be a Santana band album. The other one is for my family, my new wife (Cindy Blackman) my brother Jorge. I’ll bring together my whole family, my new family, to do music in honor of the sacredness of the family. We can start in March, April and since we’re only working at night we can do sessions during the day (at Odds On Studio). It’s just a balance — recording and being onstage. We can do three, four, seven albums.”

House of Blues, which has never before presented a residency, will put about 45 shows in 2012 on sale on March 3. And, the venue is being reconfigured with seating and tables to replace the open space, taking capacity down to 1,200 from about 1,600.

“I like to do at least 50 percent” of the new album during the shows, he says before rattling off song titles from the new album — “Shape Shifter,” “Nomad,” “Dom,” “Never the Same Again.” “It’s for people who love ‘Caravanseri,’ ‘Europa,’ ‘Samba Pa Ti‘ — the instrumentals. A lot of people miss hearing the Mexican just playing his guitar. That’s a language that’s better than Swahili or English or Spanish. I haven’t done one in a long time.”

“Shape Shifter” is being billed as Santana’s 36th album in his career that began in the San Francisco Bay Area and erupted with a performance at Woodstock in 1969. Santana and the Rolling Stones are the only acts to have landed an album in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 in every decade since the 1960s.

Santana’s first Las Vegas residency ran from May 2009 to May 2011 at the Hard Rock‘s the Joint. He played 72 shows during that stint, which was billed as “Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits.” Santana is leaving the concept for his House of Blues run more fluid — he expects to welcome special guests and alter the middle of the show nightly. He has only prepared the opening and closing of the show, but he won’t give out song titles.

“I like to assault the senses so I have created three different kinds of intros — there’s a lot of power,” Santana said.  “There’s a lot to hit the ear. I call (the opening and closing segments) the doors — there’s the front door and the back door and the middle are the rooms. We can take it to rooms that we haven’t been in, we can discover spiritual romance inside the sheets so to speak.”

Santana’s opening night is May 2 with shows planned for May, June and September.