SANTANA - In Search of Mona Lisa (2019)
On three spellbinding and transportive new songs, Carlos' dramatic new EP, In Search of Mona Lisa, takes listeners inside a magical and deeply personal experience he had when he visited the Louvre Museum in Paris, France and set his eyes on Leonardo da Vinci’s beguiling masterpiece. The experience of seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time came flooding back to Santana months later, when he awoke from a dream with the lyrics to what would become the songs “In Search of Mona Lisa” and “Do You Remember Me” fully formed in his mind. “It was the first time that I ever woke up and lyrics were there in a tangible way,” he reveals. “I could just grab them and write the songs.” On “Do You Remember Me", Carlos begins the song, with passionate melodies and an invitation to dance. Once the band kicks in with a graceful Afro-Cuban groove (courtesy of Cindy on drums, with Karl Perazzo on congas, timbales and percussion), Santana opens up on a full five minutes of some of his most gorgeous soloing yet – his lead lines are stinging, teasing, crying and sensuous – before singers Andy Vargas and Ray Greene take over. The EP’s title track sets an entirely different mood. Santana had shown his lyrics for “In Search of Mona Lisa” to producer Narada Michael Walden, who sested a Bo Diddley-esque rhythm. “I wasn’t expecting that, but I immediately liked the idea,” Santana says. With Walden rocking a rave-up drumbeat (he also overdubbed bass and keyboards), Santana lets loose with biting, wah-drenched call-and-response phrases with singer Cornell “CC” Carter before he takes flight on an impassioned extended guitar solo. While “In Search of Mona Lisa” was being recorded, Cindy sested doing something more symphonic and bringing in bass master Ron Carter. “That’s all I needed to hear,” Santana enthuses. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God. Of course!” The resulting track, “Lovers From Another Time,” unfolds much like the painting that inspired the music itself, with the dual drumming of Cindy and Walden mixing with Carter’s elegant basslines to create a living and breathing canvas on which Santana splashes vibrant six-string colors and textures.
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