Santana Caravanserai - jazz rock fusion
Perhaps it’s far too easy for the younger generation to underestimate the enormous influence that Santana had on the direction of progressive music in the early 70s and that’s a shame. Maybe their well-deserved inclusion on this site will go a long way towards rectifying that situation. After establishing themselves as bonafied “Top 40” chart-toppers with their first three studio albums the group was expected to continue that trend with more of the same radio-friendly ditties.Instead, they shocked the listening public with an album that introduced the masses to the new and blossoming world of jazz rock fusion that was jetting across the planet just under the radar of popular acceptance. “Caravanserai” was a real trip for the average Joe and not all of their fans were exactly thrilled trying to dance to odd time signatures but for many it opened a door to music that they didn’t know existed from bands like Return to Forever, Weather Report and The Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This album really doesn’t sound like any of those groups exactly. It went platinum because it’s still got that infectious, exciting Santana sound and groove that is undeniably addicting. But this one takes the listener on a fantastic journey I dare say is quite unlike any taken elsewhere. It stands alone in their vast catalogue of excellent musical offerings and I consider it their apex.

Along with Carlos’ stunning, emotionally inspired guitar playing, Michael Shrieve’s incredible drumming and the tandem of James Mingo Lewis & Jose Chepito Areas’ exemplary percussion are without peer in the timeframe this was released in. Even the gruff-voiced Greg Rolie (whom I always thought of as a weak link) surpasses all expectations and performs far beyond his perceived abilities. I’ll forego my usual song by song review and tell all of you that read this to simply experience the project as a whole. There’s not a low point to be found and the highs are numerous and unforgettable. They created a work of art that is accessible and understandable to even the most casual progressive mind while weaving a tapestry of tones and rhythms that is indescribable. It simply must be heard to believe.

I encourage all who love great progressive music to experience it. You will not be disappointed. A very solid 5 stars.

Chicapah (Rollie Anderson) PROG REVIEWER

Featured Album

Raymond Gomez – Volume

When listening to Volume, it soon becomes evident that Ray Gomez gets more soul, more feel, and more tone, than any other guitar player on the planet. Add in impeccable placed notes with “Albert King-like” timing, the album represents guitar playing that is hard to beat. Something else that needs to be said, Ray “rocks”. He is very keen on the groove within a song. Besides blistering leads, Ray keeps funk and rock groove rhythm in his playing. One could listen to Blues for Mez or West Side Boogie and say, “Well, there’s killer blues being played, funk being played, and a steady rockin’ groove. In essence, Ray Gomez is nothing short of a powerhouse. He gets more out of a guitar than is almost humanly possible, yet he does not overplay. Ray has the uncanny ability to play exactly what is needed for a song, yet with innovation, feel, and soaring power. U.S.A. is actually my favorite song on the record. It also establishes another front — that Ray is a damn good song writer and composer. Volume is a hidden gem that needs to be rediscovered. It’s still relevant and fresh today as it was when first released. Charles Wilson
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