Published Thursday, May 28, 2009 | 9:26 a.m.
Updated Friday, May 29, 2009 | 2:37 p.m.
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Guitar great Carlos Santana launched his residency in Las Vegas last night with the first performance of his new show Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits. The music legend has a two-year contract of performances at The Rogue Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel.
The show opened with a surprise guest group of percussionists from The Lion King at Mandalay Bay, who made their way through the crowd drumming and then onto the stage, where they joined Carlos and his band, reports our contributing photographer Erik Kabik. It turned into a percussion jam that led into the classic tune “Soul Sacrifice,” followed by an uplifting “Everybody’s Everything,” which featured a heavy showcase of his horn section.
Santana immediately launched into his soaring guitar solos and leads that he’s so well known for that seem to transcend the music itself.
Said Erik: “I liken Santana and his style to such jazz greats as John Coltrane and Miles Davis or rock guitarists Jerry Garcia and Jimi Hendrix. Like Santana, their soloing style seemed to be channeled from a higher place and took them into a trance-like state during their delivery of the music. Santana always seems to take his art to the next level and plays with intention and emotion, and he appears to be having a good time, always stopping to enjoy the grooves of his band and take it all in for himself, as well.”
His band mates of many years Chester Thompson on the keyboards, Raul Rekow on congas and the other members of the band were in top form for this opening night show. Song after song, the band delved deep into its 40-year archive of music. The most notable tunes were a rendition of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” plus “Incident at Neshbur, “Jingo” and the crowd-pleasers “Smooth,” “I Ain’t Got Nobody That I Can Depend On” and the great Abraxas album tunes “Black Magic Woman” and “Oyo Coma Va.”
Erik summed up: “It was a highly charged set of music from one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He sounds as fresh on his leads as ever and has that signature attack and tonality that sets him apart the minute you hear his fingers touch the strings. It was a great premiere for what is sure to be a legendary run of shows over the next two years in Vegas.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at VegasDeLuxe.com.