Santana Jams

By Sergio Ariza

The Mexican Carlos Santana is one of our weaknesses in Guitars Exchange, and so to celebrate his 73rd birthday we want to explore his most legendary 'jams' with other mythical guitarists like Clapton, B.B. King, Jeff Beck and John McLaughlin, but without forgetting other lesser known collaborations with artists of the stature of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker. 

Al Kooper with Santana - Sonny Boy Williamson

By July 1968 Super Session had become an unprecedented success for its two protagonists, Al Kooper and
Mike Bloomfield, so it was only natural that the keyboard player decided to take advantage of the moment to give a series of concerts at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Three nights were booked, from September 26th to 28th 1968, which sold out quickly but, as had happened with the album, the unpredictable Bloomfield did not appear on the last day. In desperation Kooper had to change his schedule again, but this time Stephen Stills wasn't around. That didn’t bother Kooper however as in a few hours he roped in the biggest names in the Frisco scene: Bloomfield's ex-partner in Paul Butterfield's band, Elvin Bishop; a young Steve Miller; and a twenty year old Mexican whose idol was Bloomfield himself, Carlos Santana. The young prodigy couldn't believe it and excitedly packed his SG thinking he was going to play with one of his idols, but Bloomfield of course wasn’t there. Santana remembers it as one of the great opportunities of his career but says he would have changed anything to be able to play with Michael. Even so, his excellent solo on Sonny Boy Williamson, a song composed by Paul Jones of Manfred Mann and Jack Bruce, was recorded, and was one of the things that opened the way for him to Woodstock, where, along with his band, he would become one of the sensations of the festival.


Carlos Santana & Eric Clapton - Jin Go Lo Ba

Santana and Clapton are two of the best guitarists in history, and they are also fans of each other. It is normal that 'Slow Hand' invited the Mexican to the second Crossroads Festival, which was held in 2004, so that together they could make an incendiary cover of Jingo, with Clapton using his Stratocaster Crash-3, painted by the street artist Crash.


Santana con B.B. King, Fabulous Thunderbirds & Natalie Cole - B.B. King Tribute

In 1987 several big names came together to celebrate the quintessential blues guitarist, the great B.B. King. There were Jimmy Vaughan's Fabulous Thunderbirds, Natalie Cole, Carlos Santana and the honoree himself. For Santana it wasn't just another tribute, because the Santana Blues Band had been formed in San Francisco in 1967 doing versions of B.B. King with a Latin touch. Playing alongside King’s guitar Lucille is probably one of the moments he enjoyed the most.


John Lee Hooker, Carlos Santana & Paul Butterfield - Blues Boogie Jam

However if there is one blues artist with whom he has had a very fluid relationship, it was with John Lee Hooker, with whom he recorded the splendid The Healer in 1989. Three years earlier they had already shown their chemistry in this 'jam' in which they were also accompanied by the great Paul Butterfield on harmonica.


Bob Dylan & Carlos Santana - Blowin In The Wind

In 1984 Santana and Bob Dylan embarked on a European tour that took them to 27 cities. In many of them Santana would climb on stage with Dylan to play some of his classics. One of the best moments was in Barcelona on June 28 where Carlos was able to shine on Blowin In The Wind with Dylan's band, which also included former Stone,
Mick Taylor.


Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck & Steve Lukather

On June 1, 1986, Jeff Beck and Santana's bands played together in Japan with a special guest, Steve Lukather. The result is a jazz rock orgy perfect for those who like pyrotechnics on the neck of a guitar.


Paco de Lucía & Carlos Santana - Concierto desde Barcelona

On August 20th Santana gave a special concert in Barcelona for about 15,000 people with a very special guest, Paco de Lucia. The guy from Algeciras opened the concert with his new group and was followed by Santana playing all his hits, including Oye Como Va, Black Magic Woman and Evil Ways. In the end, the moment everyone was waiting for arrived when the two guitar geniuses started playing together. However, as they played it became clear that Lucía was in another league, and so in the end Carlos gave him all the limelight, showing absolute respect for the flamenco master.


Santana & McLaughlin - The Life Divine

In 1971 Santana, a diehard fan of McLaughlin since the days of Miles Davis' In A Silent Way, met the English guitarist and was introduced to the guru Sri Chinmoy. The following year they started playing and recording together, united by their joint passion for oriental philosophy and John Coltrane. The result was released in 1973 under the title Love, Devotion, Surrender. This album included the track The Life Divine, based on the work of the saxophonist; the pair would play this song again 38 years later in their joint performance at the Montreux Festival.


Van Morrison, George Benson, Dr John, Santana, Etta James & Tom Scott - Moondance

The Midnight Special programme managed to bring together an incredible cast on 22 April 1977: Van Morrison in one of his rare television appearances, Etta James singing some of her classics such as Tell Mama and I'd Rather Go Blind and Carlos Santana playing alongside
George Benson on the instrumentals Breezin' and Valdez in the Country. At the end of the concert, the guests got together to play Van Morrison's Moondance in which Santana shone with a fiery solo, followed by Benson's class and Etta James' scat.


Grateful Dead & Carlos Santana - Stella Blue

Carlos Santana once claimed that Jerry Garcia was ‘the sun’ of the Grateful Dead; the star king around which all the other components/planets revolved. Then, on January 26th 1993, in the Oakland Coliseum, he had the opportunity to get close to the sun on the excellent 'jam' of Stella Blue with his solo. Carlos doesn't seem to know the song, you can see Bob Weir warning him about the chord changes, but he still manages to get his PRS plugged into a Mesa Boogie to bring out all the flavor and feeling he has inside.