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Santana proposed to drummer girlfriend Cindy Blackman on stage in Tinley Park, IL on Jul. 9. "Smooth."

Exclusive: Guitar icon's instrumental LP drops May 15, two weeks into his Las Vegas residency

C arlos Santana will release a new solo instrumental album two weeks after he begins a two-year residency at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. It's the first of three albums he has planned for the near future.

"Shape Shifter' is the personal album," he says of the disc that will be released May 15 on his Starfaith label through RED Distribution. "One album will be a Santana band album. The other one is for my family, my new wife (Cindy Blackman) my brother Jorge. I'll bring together my whole family, my new family, to do music in honor of the sacredness of the family. We can start in March, April and since we're only working at night we can do sessions during the day (at Odds On Studio). It's just a balance -- recording and being onstage. We can do three, four, seven albums."

House of Blues, which has never presented a residency, will put about 45 shows in 2012 on sale on March 3. Opening night is May 2 with shows planned for May, June and September. The venue is being reconfigured with seating and tables to replace the open space, taking capacity down to 1,200 from about 1,600.

"I like to do at least 50 percent" of the new album during the shows, he says before rattling off song titles from the new album -- "Shape Shifter," "Nomad," "Dom," "Never the Same Again." "It's for people who love 'Caravanseri,' 'Europa,' 'Samba Pa Ti' -- the instrumentals. A lot of people miss hearing the Mexican just playing his guitar. That's a language that's better than Swahili or English or Spanish. I haven't done one in a long time."

Santana at Woodstock: "Soul Sacrifice"


"Shape Shifter" is being billed as the 36th album in his career that began in the Bay Area and erupted with a performance at Woodstock in 1969. Santana and the Rolling Stones are the only acts to have landed an album in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 in every decade since the 1960s.

Santana's first Las Vegas residency ran from May 2009 to May 2011 at the Hard Rock's the Joint. He played 72 shows during that stint, which was billed as "Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits." Santana is leaving the concept for his House of Blues run more fluid -- he expects to welcome special guests and alter the middle of the show nightly. He has only prepared the opening and closing of the show, but he won't give out song titles.

"I like to assault the senses so I have created three different kinds of intros -- there's a lot of power," Santana said in the Foundation Room of the Los Angeles House of Blues before addressing members of the media. "There's a lot to hit the ear. I call (the opening and closing segments) the doors -- there's the front door and the back door and the middle are the rooms. We can take it to rooms that we haven't been in, we can discover spiritual romance inside the sheets so to speak.

"I think I learned from Miles Davis and (John) Coltrane and Wayne Shorter and Herbie (Hancock). They call it alchemy. You're creating, transforming. … You can create brilliance from misery, victory from being a victim through musical notes."

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