I was never able to latch on to Carlos Santana’s excursions into jazz in the early/mid-’70s. Sure, there was always something to like in his playing, but I preferred when he mixed the jazz with rock, soul, pop, and Latin rhythms.
So I was very taken with Moonflower when it came out back in ’77. It seemed Carlos was diving back into “pop” music.
This was released as a double-disc with bonus single versions of some of the songs here. It goes without saying that the highlight of the record is Carlos’ playing. It’s hard to beat the gorgeous melody and singing sustain of “Europa,” or the imaginative soloing on “Flor D’Luna”(“Moonflower”). Both cuts are pure Carlos, full of melody, energy, and tone. “Jugando” is the Latin jazz you expect, featuring several Carlos sounds. The rich, pretty, singing tone we all know and love is supplanted by a nasty rock tone that lets you know he can rock with the best of ’em.
Part of this is live, part studio, and there are great live versions of classics like “Black Magic Woman.” Another aspect I love is the soul music that has almost become a Santana trademark these days, but was new to the band then. “I’ll Be Waiting” mixes a great vocal by Greg Walker with some fine Tom Coster keyboards and Carlos soulful, jazzy playing. Same with their hit version of the old Zombies tune, “She’s Not There.” Great arrangement, great playing.
To really catch the band at its finest, check out “Dance Sister Dance.” It doesn’t get much better, all-around, than this.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.