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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Yet Another Rousing Set From Santana

March 28, 1994|DENNIS HUNT

Many years ago, a reviewer summed up a Carlos Santana show by noting: "He played some stuff before 'Oye Como Va' and some stuff after it."

Crassly stated, but still true. The celebrated guitarist, who played a concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of KLOS-FM at the packed Forum on Friday--really has nothing in his repertoire that can top that jaunty, melodious, relentlessly infectious Latin-rock tune. It isn't a put-down of his other "stuff" to say that it all pales next to this show-stopper extraordinaire.

Many of the other pieces Friday really were rousing. Santana's band, driven by a three-man percussion section, is still one of the powerhouses in the classic-rock field. No other band has ever fused Latin rhythms with blues, rock and jazz with such imagination and energy. Though two vocalists sang on some pieces--mostly the pop-oriented, spiritual tunes--it was primarily a vibrant instrumental show.

Santana, who has been experimenting with assorted Latin, jazz and rock fusions since 1966, has settled into a comfortable groove. In his younger days, he was a flashy showoff whose guitar playing annoyingly dominated most of his work. Now he lays back a lot more, doing casual riffing and leaving much of the meaty work to his sidemen. There's less fury and excess in his music, which has taken on a more pleasant, party-time feel over the years.

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