Carlos Santana is getting closer to the finishing the Santana IV project, which reunites members of the 1971-72 lineup of the band. But that’s not the only band he plans to launch in 2015.
The guitar legend tells Billboard that he and his wife Cindy Blackman Santana are forming a jazz fusion group called Supernova that will also include saxophonist Wayne Shorter, keyboardist Herbie Hancock and guitarist John McLaughlin.
“Definitely spring recording and summer touring in Europe and maybe America,” Santana says of their plans. “Can you hear it? It’s kind of like playing with, sharing music with Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, ’cause Wayne and Herbie, they’re at that level of genius, genius, genius, genius. I’m just grateful that they accept it and want to do it. And every time I play with Cindy, it goes viral. People go crazy. The energy between Cindy and I is very, very supernova.”
That said, Santana acknowledges being a bit skeptical as to how well a group like Supernova will play in his homeland. “America is still into ‘Tutti Frutti’ and that kind of stuff,” he says. “There’s a side of America that’s not really evolved with John Coltrane and Miles [Davis]. They’re, with all respect, hung up on Kenny G and people sounding like that — with all respect to [G]. But that’s not Coltrane and never will be Coltrane, so I don’t know if people will really be into what [Supernova] will bring.”
The prospects are better for Santana IV, which will feature original Santana members Greg Rolie, Marcus Malone and Michael Carabello, as well as drummer Michael Shrieve, who joined in 1969, and Neal Schon, who was Santana’s second guitarist during 1971-72 before forming Journey with Rolie. An album has been recorded and will be mixed during September and Santana expects to have the group on the road next year as well.
“It sounds great,” he says of the set. “There’s so much energy. The songs are so vibrant and I’m really, really grateful. I’ve never heard Greg sound better; we know he can play, but you should hear him singing. His voice has never been better. And Neal is one of the baddest guitar players around. It’s just been a great joy all the way around and we can’t wait for people to hear it.”
Santana’s regular band is currently on the road, with his son Salvador as special guest. He’ll begin his next residency at the Las Vegas House of Blues on Sept. 16 and Santana also hopes to record “a whole album” with Ronald Isley and Sly & the Family Stone/Graham Central Station bassist Larry Graham, both old friends who he’s recently been working with.
“This is fun. It’s not work. It’s not a labor,” Santana says. “It’s a joy to do all these things and show up and be there. And everyday I’m grateful because I open the faucet and the water comes out and the water is pure. I can drink it, I can brush my teeth, comb my hair, wash my body. I have a real thirst for adventure, so I’m offering gratitude for having energy, having innocence and curiosity to keep finding these new things to do.”