Thank goodness for Carlos Santana. And Thank goodness for Eagle Rock Entertainment. This has been stated before already with the 2012 release of Carlos Santana: Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011. Now Eagle Rock has finished what it started with the release of Santana’s performance that same year with fellow guitar legend John McLaughlin (The Mahavishnu Orchestra). It has already been noted of seeing Carlos Santana and company live before that to see these musicians perform live is to not just see a concert. Seeing Carlos Santana and his band mates live is to truly take part in a musical experience. That applies in this brand new release just as much as in Eagle Rock’s previous live Santana Blu-ray. The musical experience is just one portion of what makes Santana & McLaughlin: Live at Montreux 2011 such a joy for music aficionados. Tied directly into the experience is the show’s set list. Just as with Santana’s previous live release via Eagle Rock, this show’s set list feels more like one giant jam session than a specifically structured set list. This is far better than anyone could realize. And lastly, audiences with HDTVs will appreciate the clarity of the recording’s sound and picture. Those with surround sound home theater systems will especially appreciate that clarity. Together with the set list and the general performance, it is one more factor that reminds audiences why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader of the pack in live recordings.
Taking in a performance of Carlos Santana and his band mates is more than simply taking in a performance from the highly talented musicians. Taking in a performance of these individuals is taking in a full musical experience. This is just as true in Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination as it was on Carlos Santana: Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011. It is incredible to see Santana and his band mates sharing the stage throughout the two-hour plus performance. Unlike so many other bands out there today, Santana steps back on multiple occasions, allowing his band mates to get their fair share of time in the limelight. Simply put, he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk, too. Such humility, willingness to share the spotlight, and talent shows why Santana is still one of the greatest guitarists in modern music history. Audiences that have not yet gotten to see Eagle Rock’s previous performance from Santana and company will be in awe at the talent of both drummers Dennis Chambers and Santana’s own wife, Cyndi Blackman Santana. Blackman Santana’s skill with the sticks is unparalleled. Watching her perform whether with the rest of the band or by herself on her drum solo is like watching controlled chaos. By contrast, Chambers’ own performance behind his kit is the picture of talent and composure. Chambers’ body language is one of someone that is entirely relaxed. Yet his playing would seem otherwise. It’s an amazing juxtaposition. The band overall presents such talent throughout its performance.
The band’s performance throughout the two-hour plus concert is the central point of the recording. Also to be taken into consideration in the overall presentation is the show’s set list. The set list for this concert was comprised largely of songs from the classic 1973 album, Love Devotion Surrender. However, fans will also take note early on of the medley of songs including covers of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ and saxophonist John Coletrane’s ‘Peace on Earth’. It even contains a cover of Albert Ayler’s ‘Our Prayer.’ The cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was the highest of highlights throughout the medley of tunes. From the guitar work of both Santana and McLaughlin to David K. Matthews’ keyboards to every part in between, it is a cover that would make both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant proud if they see this performance. The same can be said of the late John Bonham’s son, Jason, too. While it’s a cover, one can’t help but think to one’s own self, which version is really better? Zeppelin’s version or this updated take on the classic song? That’s a tough call. But what can be said is that it is just as good as the original, if not better. It is an amazing point in the overall performance. Audiences will of course each find their own moment that they will call their favorite. This is just one of so many from which audiences will be able to choose. And it’s just one of so many that make Invitation to Illumination such a joy for audiences of all ages.
The set list and the general performance work together with this new release to make it one of the year’s best live recordings. There is one more factor that audiences should consider in examining what makes it one more expert release from Eagle Rock Entertainment. That factor is the presentation’s audio and video mix. The audio and video mix of this presentation is right on par with each live recording already released so far by Eagle Rock Entertainment this year. Those with home theater surround sound systems and the ability to set the audio on their HDTVs to a music setting will especially appreciate this. Those audiences will be entirely enveloped by the concert and see just why taking in a performance by Carlos Santana and his band mates is in fact not just taking in a performance, but being part of a true musical experience. Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination Live at Montreux 2011 is available now in stores and online. Fans can keep up with the latest news and more from Carlos Santana online at http://www.santana.com and http://www.facebook.com/carlossantana.
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