Thursday, July 16, 2009

Carlos Santana, Trieste 14/07/2009

Remember perhaps THE greatest concert in rock history, Woodstock? Remember some of the great artists that day? Well, one of them was Carlos Augusto Santana Alves, better known to the entire world for more than 40 years as simply Carlos Santana (his Trieste concert fell exactly on the 40th anniversary of that memorable concert). And in the splendid and scenic seaside town of Trieste (once home for 9 years to a fellow by the name of James Joyce. Some say that his masterpiece, “Ulysses”, is apparently sprinkled here and there with Trieste`s dialect), there was one of the world`s master electric guitarists of rock, salsa and jazz fusion music (not to mention a spokesman for Latino music worldwide) right in front of your eyes!

His set-list only consisted of 17 songs, but nevertheless it was an entertaining show as Santana switched from one upright guitar to the other. He was joined up on stage by 10 other fine musicians. The outdoor concert took place in Trieste`s main Piazza Liberta` square, directly in front of the mayor`s office and the city`s main port (where cruise liners and even warships are known to dock. Some 30 years ago I actually saw the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise docked in Trieste). About 4,000 people showed up, including the odd youngin` who went wild as the announcer yelled on the microphone: “Santana”! as the great Carlos came out on stage.

Santana has been involved with some other great musicians, such as Tito Puente (Santana`s now famous “Oye Come Va” is actually Puente`s) and John McLaughlin. I had seen Puente together with Stevie Winwood in Rome some 10 years ago, shortly before Puente would die, whereas I got to see the great McLaughlin of “The Mahavishnu Orchestra” fame just two years ago right here in Udine. Other artists though have taken Santana as an inspiration, including Prince and Metallica`s Kirk Hammett.

His album “Supernatural” reached no. 1 (it eventually sold more than 15 million records just in the States) on the U.S. charts and the follow-up single “Maria Maria” also made it to no. 1. The album would eventually go on to win 8 Grammy Awards, including album of the year and record of the year. And it was with “Maria Maria” that he opened up Trieste`s concert. Given the fact that recently the entire world has been talking about Michael Jackson, Santana played guitar on the song “Whatever Happens” from the album “Invincible”. And Seeing that he ain`t such a bad guitarist, Rolling Stone named him in 2003 one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

On a separate note, Santana`s born-again Christian “renaissance” could also give an explanation to a small photo which was placed right next to Santana`s drummer. A good show for someone who on July 20th, the 40th anniversary of man on the moon, turns 62 years old. Happy Carlos (all pics by M. Rimati)!

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