Jazz At Lincoln Center’s ‘Jazz And Art’ Paints The Year’s Best New Musical Picture Of 2019’s New Jazz, Blues Albums

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

The worlds of jazz and blues are intertwined with one another and have been for ages.  From their earliest days to the modern era, a close listen to records from the two genres exhibits this connection.  Keeping that in mind, it makes sense to combine the two genres when considering year-ender lists.That is just what this critic has done for years and is doing again this year.  This year’s list of top new jazz and blues albums touches on lots of different artists and groups.  The Jazz AT Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis has released a handful of noteworthy albums this year, as has World Music Network.  Blues artists Keb Mo and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are also featured on this year’s list with their new albums.  The same can be said of Diana Panton, as her new album is featured in this list, too.

As with every list this critic produces, it features the year’s top 10 new albums and five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks Top 10 New Jazz & Blues albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW JAZZ & BLUES ALBUMS

  1. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Jazz & Art
  2. Joel Ross — Kingmaker
  3. Diana Panton — Cheerful Little Earful
  4. World Music Network — The Rough Guide To Blues Divas
  5. Mark Clive De-Lowe — Heritage
  6. Mark Clive De-Lowe — Heritage II
  7. Keb Mo — Oklahoma
  8. Pancho Sanchez — Trane’s Delight
  9. Tedeschi Trucks Band — Signs
  10. Miles Davis — Rubberband
  11. John Coletrane — Coletrane ’58The Prestige Sessions
  12. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Big Band Holidays II
  13. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Jazz For Kids
  14. World Music Network — The Rough Guide To World Jazz
  15. The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band — The Traveler

 

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Craft Recordings To Re-Issue Monk/Coletrane Collection On Vinyl Next Month

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

Craft Records will re-issue a collection of live recordings from John Coletrane and Thelonious Monk next month.

Thelonious Monk with John Coletrane: The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings will be released June 9 in a deluxe vinyl box set and can be pre-ordered online now via Amazon. The new re-issue will feature new box art, rare photos and 1800-gram vinyl discs re-mastered from the recordings’ original analog masters.  The recordings will be available on hi-res digital platforms, too.

Audiences can watch a video presenting the collection’s unboxing online now here.  Craft Recordings President Sig Sigworth said the importance of the collection made it an obvious choice for a first impression from the fledgling company.

“Craft Recordings is built on a dedication to create innovative, high-quality releases,” Sigworth said.  “The intersection of John Coletrane and Thelonious Monk in 1957 defines high-quality and innovation, so it was an easy choice to have this unique package be Craft Recordings’ debut release.”

The upcoming collection holds special significance being released this year because 2017 marks what would have been Monk’s 100th birthday.  He and Coletrane are not the only big jazz names featured on the recordings.  Also featured in the collection are the likes of Art Blakey, Wilbur Ware, Coleman Hawkins, Shadow Wilson, Ray Copeland and Gigi Gryce.

The collection’s liner notes were written by Orrin Keepnews.

The complete track listing for the 3-LP collection is noted below.

Track List:

Disc One           

A1. Monk’s Mood [false start]

A2. Monk’s Mood

A3. Crepuscule with Nellie [take 1]

A4. Crepuscule with Nellie [take 2]

A5. Crepuscule with Nellie [breakdown]

B1. Blues for Tomorrow [first stereo release]

B2. Crepuscule with Nellie [edited: retakes 4 & 5]

Disc Two

A1. Crepuscule with Nellie [retake 6]

A2. Off Minor [take 4]

A3. Off Minor [take 5]

A4. Abide with Me [take 1]

A5. Abide with Me

B1. Ephistrophy [short version]

B2. Ephistrophy

B3. Well, You Needn’t [opening]

Disc Three                                       

A1. Well, You Needn’t

A2. Ruby, My Dear [with Coleman Hawkins]

B1. Ruby, My Dear [with John Coltrane]

B2. Nutty

B3. Trinkle, Tinkle

More information on Thelonious Monk with John Coletrane: The Complete 1957 Recordings is available online now at http://craftrecordings.com.

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Bonamassa’s New Blues Record Is No Desperate Act From The Veteran Performer

Courtesy J&R Adventures

Courtesy J&R Adventures

Phil’s Picks has focused a lot lately on rock and other genres of music in the vastness of the musical universe.  Today, the focus shifts away from those genres to something a little bit less mainstream.  In today’s list, Phil’s Picks presents the year’s best new Jazz and blues records.  This year’s list presents a wide variety of acts, from more well-known acts such as The Rolling Stones, Joe Bonamassa and Yellowjackets to perhaps lesser known, but still talented acts such as Hazmat Modine, Takuya Kuroda and others.  It wasn’t an easy list to work up, either.  That’s because there was so much great material out there this year.  Combining jazz and blues into one list didn’t make things any easier.  But it got done.

As with every other list, the Top 10 New Jazz and Blues Albums features the year’s top 10 new jazz and blues albums.  It also includes five honorable mention titles for a total count of 15 albums.  That is not to take away anything from those honorable mention titles.  They are enjoyable in their own right and deserved to be noted, too.  Enough rambling.  Here, for everyone’s consideration, is Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New Jazz and Blues Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW JAZZ AND BLUES ALBUMS

 

  1. Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation

 

  1. YellowjacketsCohearance

 

  1. Joseph C. Smith OrchestraSongs of the Night

 

  1. John Coletrane – Trane 90

 

  1. The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

 

  1. James Hunter SixHold On!

 

  1. Takuya KurodaZiggerzagger

 

  1. Fela Ransom Kuti & His Koola LubitesHigh Life: Jazz & Afro Soul (’63 – ’69)

 

  1. Gregory PorterTake Me To The Alley

 

  1. Quinn SullivanMidnight Highway

 

  1. Charles Lloyd & The MarvelsI Long To See You

 

  1. Logan RichardsonShift

 

  1. Hazmat ModineExtra – Deluxe – Supreme

 

  1. Keely Smith – The Intimate Keely Smith

 

  1. Jazz Haunts & Magic Vaults – The New Lost Classics of Resonance

 

 

 

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Santana-McLaughlin Montreux Re-Issue Is Another Shining Beacon From Eagle Rock

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Forty-eight years ago a man named Claude Knobs founded the Montreux Jazz Festival. In the decades since its founding, the once jazz-only festival has grown to become one of the world’s most renowned festivals featuring acts from every one of the music industry’s genres. Sadly, Knobs passed away two years ago. But even in his absence, the festival has continued on and remained one of the world’s elite music festivals. And thanks to the efforts of the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment that reputation has been held strong due to the label’s partnership with Montreux Sounds. The companies’ partnership has resulted in a number of performances from the festival’s history being released in recent years. That list includes performances from the likes of: Stan Getz, Phil Collins, Etta James, ZZ Top, and The Raconteurs among so many others. Last week, that list grew just a little more when the companies revisited Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin’s 2011 Invitation to Illumination performance and re-issued the concert in a double-disc CD presentation. Originally released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2013, this latest release is just as enjoyable for those that might not already own the concert’s original DVD and/or BD presentation. Of course it is just as enjoyable for anyone that already owns said presentations, too. The main reason that it is so enjoyable is its set list. Just as with Eagle Rock’s 2012 Santana live release, Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011, this show’s set list feels more like one giant jam session than a specifically structured set list. By direct connection, the stage presence of the musicians on stage is just as noteworthy in the recording’s enjoyment and success. Last of note in this recording is the concert’s audio mix. Those with surround sound home theater systems will especially appreciate that clarity of the recording’s audio mix. Together with the set list and the band’s stage presence, that expert audio mix is one more factor that reminds audiences why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader of the pack in live recordings. Collectively, all three elements show why this recording is one of the best of this year’s crop of re-issues.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new double-disc presentation of Carlos Santana & John Mclaughlin’s performance at the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival is not the first time that the recording has been released. Despite that, this audio-only presentation is just as enjoyable as the concert’s 2013 DVD and Blu-ray presentation of the concert. This applies both for those that already own the concert’s DVD and/or Blu-ray presentation and for those that have neither. The main reason that it is so enjoyable for all involved is its set list. The nearly two and a half hour performance (two hours and fourteen minutes to be exact) is composed of sixteen tracks that touch on quite a few different genres. There is a tribute to Led Zeppelin early on as Santana and company cover the legendary rock band’s hit single ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ There are also tributes to Miles Davis and John Coletrane later in the performance in the form of ‘Black Satin’ and ‘A Love Supreme’ respectively. There is also another tribute to Coletrane earlier in the show in the form of ‘Naima,’ which is another of the legendary sax player’s greatest hits. As if these numbers aren’t enough, there are also of plenty of other original pieces performed by Santana and his fellow musicians pulled from Santana and McLaughlin’s 1973 album Love Devotion Surrender. The combination of the artists’ covers and original compositions results in a set list that is rich and completely engaging. Being so rich and engaging, audiences won’t even realize that so much time has passed by the time they reach the concert’s finale performance. That in itself is the mark of a truly talented group of musicians. Speaking of the musicians’ collective talents, their talents are another reason that audiences will enjoy this latest release of Invitation to Illumination.

The extensive set list compiled for Invitation to Illumination is in itself plenty of reason for fans of Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin to pick up this newly re-issued concert recording. It runs nearly two and a half hours and spans some sixteen songs. At no point in that time will audiences ever find themselves checking the time as the concert progresses. Rather, they will find themselves becoming lost in the concert in the best way possible. That says quite a bit within itself. Of course the concert’s chosen set list is only part of what makes it so enjoyable. The stage presence of Santana and his fellow musicians is another reason that audiences will enjoy the show. Taking in a performance by 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 hear Santana and his band mates sharing the stage throughout the two-hour plus performance. Unlike so many other acts 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 will be in awe at the talent of both Dennis Chambers and Santana’s own wife, Cyndi Blackman Santana as they work behind their kits. 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. It’s yet another way in which the band’s stage presence shows itself to be an important part of the recording’s whole. Together with the show’s extensive set list, both elements show once again why Invitation to Illumination is a brightly shining live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The set list assembled for Invitation to Illumination and the stage presence of the assembled musicians are both key reasons that the recording is so entertaining for audiences. They are just part of the whole of the recording’s enjoyment in its new double-disc CD presentation. The concert’s final audio mix rounds out the reasons that the concert shines so brightly. Those with surround sound home theater systems will especially appreciate that clarity of the recording’s audio mix. That is not to say that those without a home theater system will be left out in the cold per se. Rather it is just to say that the audio mix really lends itself to a home theater system even having been recorded at an indoor venue. There is something about the combined talents of the musicians on stage that just gives the performance that much power. This includes both the concert’s more raucous moments and even its more reserved moments. Audiences will agree with this sentiment when they pick up this recording for themselves. Together with the concert’s set list and the performers’ stage presence, it becomes the finishing touch on a recording that is one more brightly shining recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment even having been previously released.

While it is not the first time that Eagle Rock Entertainment has released the concert, the company’s new double-disc CD presentation of Invitation to Illumination still shines just as brightly as the concert’s previous DVD and Blu-ray presentation. This is the case both for those that already own one or both of the previously released presentations and for those that don’t already own either. The show’s set list coupled with the stage presence and talents of the performers makes for plenty of enjoyment in its new re-issue. The concert’s expert audio mix makes it even more of a joy for audiences. All three elements taken together make Invitation to Illumination a concert that is just as enjoyable the second time around as the first. Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination Live at Montreux 2011 is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

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New Live Coletrane Recording Coming This Spring From MVD Entertainment Group

Courtesy:  MVD Entertainment Group

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

Jazz lovers celebrate! This spring, MVD Entertainment Group is going to release a new archived live recording from legendary saxophonist John Coletrame.

MVD Entertainment Group will release So Many Things: The European Tour 1960 on Tuesday, March 10th. The four-disc set is a “sequel” of sorts to Miles Davis and John Coletrane “All of You”: The Last Tour 1960. It follows the band’s performances from its Fall 1961 tour of Europe and features performances of some of Coletrane’s greatest hits including: ‘My Favorite Things,’ ‘Blue Train,’ and ‘Naima’ that Coletrane performed alongside band mates Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet, flute), McCoy Tyner (piano), Reggie Workman (bass), and Elvin Jones (drums). There is also a bonus for fans as the quintet performed what is Coletrane’s only recording of Victor Young’s ‘Delilah.’ It also includes photographs, concert memorabilia, and news articles as well as a full-length essay in the set’s liner notes from award-winning British saxophonist and writer Simon Spillett. The complete track listing for the upcoming recording is noted below.
CD 1:
L’Olympia, Paris, November 18th 1961 (First House)
1. Blue Train (Coltrane)
2. I Want To Talk About You (Eckstine)
3. Impressions (Coltrane)
4. My Favourite Things (Rodgers, Hammerstein)

L’Olympia, Paris, November 18th 1961 (Second House)
5. I Want To Talk About You (Eckstine)
6. Blue Train (Coltrane)

CD 2:
L’Olympia, Paris, November 18th 1961 (Second House, cont.)
1. My Favourite Things (Rodgers, Hammerstein)

Falkconercentret, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 20th 1961
2. Announcement
3. Delilah (Young)
4. Everytime We Say Goodbye (Porter)
5. Impressions (Coltrane)
6. Naima (Coltrane)

CD 3:
Falkonercentret, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 20th 1961 (cont.)
1. My Favourite Things (false starts)
2. Announcement by John Coltrane
3. My Favourite Things (Rodgers, Hammerstein)

Kulttuuritalo, Helsinki, Finland, November 22nd 1961 (Second House)
4. Blue Train (Coltrane)
5. I Want To Talk About You (Eckstine)
6. Impressions (Coltrane)
7. My Favourite Things (Rodgers, Hammerstein)

CD 4:
Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden, November 23rd 1961 (First House)
1. Blue Train (Coltrane)
2. Naima (Coltrane)
3. Impressions (Coltrane)
4. My Favourite Things (Rodgers, Hammerstein)

Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden, November 23rd 1961 (Second House)
4. My Favourite Things (Rodgers, Hammerstein)

More information on this and other releases from MVD Entertainment Group is available online at:

Website: http://www.mvdb2b.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MVDEntertainmentGroup

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MVDentgroup

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Adage Could Be North Carolina’s Next Big Name In Music

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Austin, Texas.  Seattle, Washington.  Los Angeles, California. Atlanta, Georgia.  New York, New York.  Most people reading this right now are likely scratching their heads where this is going.  The answer is simple.  The cities noted here are some of America’s biggest hotbeds in the music industry.  They aren’t the industry’s only major hotbeds, though. Most people might not know it, but North Carolina as a whole state is a music hotbed within itself.  As a matter of fact, North Carolina could be argued to be one of the biggest musical hotbeds in America.  That’s because of the variety of major name acts that have called North Carolina home throughout the ages.  Jazz pioneers such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Max Roach all called North Carolina home as did fellow jazz great Billy Taylor. Taylor hailed from Greenville, North Carolina while Monk and Coletrane came from Rocky Mount and High Point respectively.  The Fabulous Corsairs, which featured famed singer-songwriter James Taylor called Chapel Hill home.  In terms of the world of rock, the world renowned Corrosion of Conformity is still performing and recording today.  As a matter of fact, COC released its latest album earlier this year.  The band calls The Old North State’s capital city Raleigh home.  Delta Rae, which is one of the biggest of North Carolina’s biggest acts today calls Durham home as does indie band Bombadil.  Of course one can’t forget the likes of The Avett Brothers, Parmalee, Between The Buried and Me, or Trioscapes among so many others.  Now another young up and coming band has added its name to that list of bands and artists that have made North Carolina the rich musical hotbed that it is for so many decades thanks to its new EP Defined.  The band’s debut for Pavement Entertainment presents great potential for the Winston-Salem based band even with only a total of five songs.  The songs included on this record exhibit influence from bands such as Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, and to a lesser extent Trapt.  What’s more any of the songs included on this disc could easily be used as a single to promote the band.  That is obvious right off the top in the EP’s opening number ‘Anymore.’  It is just as obvious on the EP’s third and final songs, ‘Hold On’ and ‘By Myself’ respectively.’  ‘Best Of’ and ‘Growing Colder’ are also excellent examples of what audiences can expect from Adage’s new EP.  Collectively, the songs included on this record show Adage as a band that is on the brink of adding its name to the list of North Carolina’s biggest bands and artists.

The members of Adage show why the band is close to becoming another of North Carolina’s most well-known and talked about acts right from the outset of its new EP in the song ‘Anymore’  The song’s agro-rock stlye sound hints at influences both from the likes of Trapt and even Taproot to a slightly lesser extent.  Drummer Alex Hough’s timekeeping in this piece is exception especially considering the polyrhythmic patterns that he handles while keeping time for the band.  And the 1-2 punch of guitarist Luke and vocalist Justin Doyle heightens the song’s energy and emotion as well.  There is a certain furiousness in Doyle’s voice as he sings over the equally driving guitar line, “Everytime you look in my eyes you lie/And tell me everything’s alright/I know you don’t feel it anymore…I hate you/For all you’ve done to me/Some things you never see/And I don’t care.”  Songs about breakups are nothing new to the music industry.  They go back as far as the industry’s own beginnings it would seem.  But those songs that take the high road instead of the depression oh-woe-is-me angle are rather few and far between.  So when angrier, more aggressive pieces such as this one come along, they are a welcome change of pace.  That more aggressive lyrical and musical style that collectively make up this song makes it an instant radio ready song and a good representation of the band’s work on Defined.

As with ‘Anymore,’ ‘Hold On’ is also centered in the standard lyrical theme of relationships.  It also boasts the same agro-rock style that made so many bands in the late 90s and early 2000s fan favorites.  This song absolutely cries “LIVE” because of that sound.  Doyle sings Sorry that I’m not perfect/One day I will be worth it/To you/So hold on/I can’t ever find the right words/For saying nothing is so much worse to you/Hold on/All of this will come together/And I promise you/I promise you/Say goodbye for you.”  This song comes across as the polar opposite to the EP’s opener in that it seems more like his subject here is pleading for a woman to stay around versus the self-assured figure in ‘Anymore.’  He is trying his hardest to convince her to stay.  The musical comparison to the band’s bigger named counterparts only serves to make the song even more entertaining for audiences.  It goes to show the caliber of material the band is presenting here.  And that caliber is high, needless to say.  Together with ‘Anymore’ it makes for even more reason for fans to check out this EP when it drops August 19th.

Both ‘Anymore’ and ‘Hold On’ are good examples of what makes Defined an impressive new release from Adage.  Of the EP’s five songs, though there is still one more example of what makes this release the work that could potentially make Adage North Carolina’s next big name.  That song is the EP’s closer ‘By Myself.’  This song is a good way for the band to have closed out Defined.  It was such a good choice for a closer in that it shows the band’s softer side.  It’s a more melodic piece.  And among the EP’s five songs, it is perhaps the strongest candidate of all for the song that really breaks out the band.  Doyle sings in this song, “I’m crying out/Out for help/I just can’t be by myself/Remember how/How I felt/I just can’t see/By myself/I hear it from all sides/On how I should love you/I can’t make up my mind/On anything I do/Why am I here/Why won’t you just take me home/Why am I here/Why won’t you just leave me alone.”  The guitar breaks that follow the chorus are right up there with the likes of Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge) and other top named guitarists.  That along with the power in Doyle’s vocals make this song just as fitting a closer as ‘Anymore’ is the opener for the record.  Such a powerful final statement along with the EP’s other noted songs (and the pair not mentioned) seals the deal for Adage and for Defined.  It is the final piece of musical evidence proving why Adage is on the verge of becoming North Carolina’s next big name.

Defined will be available in stores and online Tuesday, August 19th via Pavement Entertainment.  Audiences can check out the songs from Defined online now via Adage’s ReverbNation website at http://www.reverbnation.com/adageband while they wait for the EP to drop.  They can also keep up with the band’s latest tour dates through that website and the band’s official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/adageband1.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Keeps Soaring With Santana’s Latest Live Release

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Montreux Sounds

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Montreux Sounds

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.