Carlos Santana tells Billboard that Isley’s lead vocals on the tracks “Love Makes the World Go Round” and “Freedom in Your Mind” were outgrowths of another project, an album for Isley called The Power of Peace that Santana is helming and also features his wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, on drums and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes.
“We completed a whole album — we did 16 songs in four days and they’re killer,” says Santana, who had Isley’s music played at his 2010 wedding to Blackman. “I said to Ronnie, ‘Listen, I’m gonna be totally into, like a laser, honoring you, celebrating you and doing an album just to put the light on you. But I want to know in return, will you sing two songs on our album, on Santana IV. He said yes, so I wrote those two songs in 20 minutes at the Four Seasons in Miami.”
There was no problem getting buy-in for Isley from the rest of Santana IV — the reunited lineup from 1971’s Santana III album, including current Journey guitarist Neal Schon and Santana co-founders Gregg Rolie, Michael Shrieve and Michael Carabello.
Santana IV is due out April 15, while Santana expects Isley’s album to come out during the fourth quarter of the year.
As busy as he is with music, Santana is also keeping an eye on the political prize and this year’s presidential campaign. Not surprisingly, favoring the Democratic candidates and, also not surprisingly, doesn’t have much love for the other side of the divide.
“LBJ, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Donald Trump … It’s the same guy,” Santana says. “We want the other person, the he or she that brings equality, fairness, justice and says loudly there is enough for everyone. It’s a lie that there’s not enough for everybody. That’s how they create fear.”
So is it Hillary or Bernie for him?
“I want both Democrats, either one,” Santana says, “but I lean towards Hillary because I’d like to see a woman bring more compassion and equality and less fear and more inclusiveness. I’m ready for a woman. We’re really blessed in America, being a social experiment. We had a black president, no you could have a woman take the reins and hopefully bring more illumination and more inclusiveness and grace, thank you.”
Meanwhile, in addition to touring with his regular Santana band, the guitarist is also gearing up for the debut concert by Supernova — an all-star jazz fusion collective with Blackman, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Marcus Miller — on Aug. 24 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. And after that Santana is hoping to record an album of “obscure” John Coltrane songs with John McLaughlin.