“Carlos Santana and Wayne Shorter – Live at Montreux 1988″
is a generous concert on DVD, lasting more than two
hours. It features music by Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter,
John Coltrane, and others, “channeled” through the
collective consciousness of the eight musicians performing on
stage. The concert personnel included Patrice Rushen (1954 – )
and Chester D. Thompson on keyboards, percussionists Armando
Peraza (1924 – ) and José Chepito Areas (1946 – ), drummer
Ndugu Leon Chancler (1952 – ), and bassist Alphonso Johnson
(1951 – ). This was quite a lineup of talent!
Apart from his beautiful guitar playing, I’ve admired
Carlos Santana’s (1947 – ) knack for surrounding himself with
excellent musicians. His collaborators are not just from the Rock
mold and have included Alice Coltrane (1937-2007) and John
McLaughlin (1942 – ), as well as other Jazz heavyweights. There
is no doubt that Santana’s habitual creation of such a stellar
musical environment also raises his own level of playing.
Whether he’s with his band or performing solo, Santana’s
music can range from Afro-Cuban-Blues jams to harmonically
daring Jazz/Rock excursions, and “radio-friendly” Pop/Rock styles.
I’ve always found that there’s something interesting to hear,
regardless of my preferences.
Of course, Wayne Shorter (1933 – ) is a giant in the Jazz
firmament, having played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers
and Miles Davis’ second great quintet, during the 1960’s. Shorter
was actually the primary composer for that group, referred to by
Davis as his “idea man.” In 1970, Shorter collaborated with
another Miles Davis alumnus, pianist Joe Zawinul (1932-2007),
to form the Jazz-Rock-Fusion group, Weather Report.
When you combine the talents of these musicians to create
the performances featured on this DVD, interesting things
can happen. The music I heard ranged from challenging Jazz
improvisations like the opening Coltrane number, to songs
from the 1970’s, such as “Incident at Neshabur,” “Europa,”
and Shorter’s “Sanctuary.” Shorter played the tenor saxophone
on all but two of the tunes, switching to a soprano saxophone
for those songs and varying in style from short, terse
statements to longer wailing solos, in the John Coltrane
I believe that Carlos Santana’s playing was some of the best
that I’d ever heard from him, as of this date. The two
percussionists and the drummer were also given solo
opportunities. Near the end of the concert, Patrice Rushen
strapped on her Yamaha KX5 keyboard, and traded licks
with Santana. For me, that was the high point of the concert.
Another nice element of this gig was the way that the
musicians listened intently to each other, resulting in collective
improvisations. In fact, this musical “mixed bag” consisted of a
wide variety of styles that were challenging to hear.
Of course, when I consider the music that he’s played during
his career, it’s safe to say that Wayne Shorter was probably
the least challenged by the requirements of this set!
Bonus tracks include 30 minutes of interviews with Carlos
Santana, Wayne Shorter and Montreux Jazz Festival founder,
Claude Nobbs (1936 – ). I found the Carlos Santana interview
to be particularly illuminating.
Considering that this footage is taken from a concert
given during the 1980’s, the sound quality of the concert
was decent if not great, with good video camera work.
I recommend this DVD, and believe that it represents a
worthwhile meeting of stellar musicians, often yielding great results.