Once again Montreux Jazz Festival Director Claude Nobs invited Carlos Santana to give free reign to his imagination and present three nights of extraordinary music to Montreux. On the heels of 2004’s resounding success and all its subsequent critical and popular acclaim and given the longstanding friendship between Mr. Nobs and Carlos, this return venture came as no surprise. The question for most, however, had to do with what new surprise Carlos would pull from his dream bag. On Sunday, July 9th, they got their answer.
Dance To the Beat of My Drum was a night dedicated to the melding of Santana with the music of some of the world’s leading African and Brazilian musicians, all of whom were delighted with Carlos’ invitation to join Santana in a Montreux night of percussive and rhapsodic revelry. The title, itself, comes from a song written and performed by Nigerian drummer and composer Babatunde Olatunji, another of Carlos’ friends and mentors.
Thanks particularly to the efforts of the night’s musical director, Senegalese drummer-vocalist-bandleader Idrissa Diop, Dance To The Beat of My Drum managed to present almost forty-five guest musicians, in addition to Santana, performing some twenty-five songs. This stellar assemblage included Beninese vocalist Angelique Kidjo, Brazilian vocalist/percussionist Carlinhos Brown, Brazil Percushow, Malian griot Mory Kante¢, Senagalese brother vocalists Toure Kunda, Senagalese guitarist-vocalist Ismael Lo, the Senegalese Kora Jazz Trio, Idrissa Diop, and, of course, Santana augmented by its very, very special guest, returning Santana percussionist Armando Peraza.
The concert was preceded by a musical street parade down the main street of Montreux consisting of all the participants including Santana. Carlos, so completely enthralled and excited by everything, was in the front ranks marching and filming at the same time and drummer Dennis Chambers was spotted showing off some of his native Baltimore dance steps.
Cast in the unfamiliar role of support group, the Santana Band showed its versatility and eagerness to get things right as they performed with every artist. To the surprise of absolute no one, Carlos blended almost magically with the music of each guest, demonstrating once more that the magic of Carlos Santana melody and inventiveness will work its magic in virtually any setting.
It would be pointless to attempt to identify the highlights of the evening simply because everyone performed in unbelievable fashion. Suffice it to say that Carlos was ecstatic about the entire evening that served to underscore his love of and respect for the music of South America and Africa.
It’s quite possible, however, that some time in the relatively near future, we will all get the opportunity to see and hear Angelique Kidjo sing “Woman of Somalia” and”Tunba”, Ismael Lo sing “Dibidi Dibidi”,Carlinhos Brown sing and play “Eleva Legua”, Idrissa Diop sing “Historia”, Toure¢ Kunda¢¢¢ sing “Con Santana” and “Africa Bamba”, the Kora Jazz trio perform “own”, Mory Kante sing and play “Kora Solo” and “Soumba” and everybody perform “Africa Unite”and”Descarga Encuero”. And we will witness another night of sheer musical excellence, passion, and joy.
And a good time is guaranteed for all.