Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Santana - Abraxisdotdotdot
artworkWhat you say? What indeed! The reason for this review is the similarity between Santana's "Gypsy Queen" and Schwarz's "Panoramic Sunset & American Moon." (from the Middle Class Pig compilation). With the slightly surfier treatment of the concept by Schwarz, I finally realized why I liked "Gypsy Queen," among other Santana instros. There is a lot of island-surf imagery and many exotic elements merged with the blues underpinnings, and some piano work not totally unlike that used by the Chantays or Dave Myers in Carlos Santana's writing. This was a surprise realization for me, since I've been an unwilling fan of some of his work, not wanting to like it because his legend was bigger than his talent, and his playing was sometimes unimaginative or stilted. Yet, I found myself drawn to some of his pieces, mercilessly hooked. Now, I understand why. So, if you're a brave soul willing to explore neighboring territory, and you're not a slave to the frat-boy trad nazi mentality, read on.
Picks: Spring Winds, Crying Beasts, Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen, Incident At Nashbur, Se a Cabo, Samba Pa Ti

Track by Track Review

Spring Winds, Crying Beasts dotdotdotdot
Oasis Dreams (Instrumental)

This track is quite arty without being pompous. Its use of cymbals is similar to some of the more adventurous work Martyn Jones did with Jim Thomas on early long pieces. The addition of bells adds a gypsy air, and the infectious rhythm of the percussion supports the shimmering piano-keyboard while the guitar hints at "Gypsy Queen." This places you in the oasis where the shimmer of the water sparkling in the sun is easily mistaken for a mirage, and the haunting sounds are like the cries of caravans long dead, shrieking via the sands of time and the winds of history. Spooky and mystical.

Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen dotdotdotdot
Exotic Oasis (Vocal)

Instrumentally, "Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen" is fluid and mysterious, almost chilling in it's haunted atmosphere, before giving way to the vocal. The vibrato in the piano is shimmering, and the nomadic sound is quite fitting for future surf treatment. It is the instrumental work here that is important. It shines, standing head and shoulders above other late sixties San Francisco bands, with the exception of John Cipollina's work with Quicksilver Messenger Service. I think Columbia should remix this without the vocals, with some minor overdubs from Carlos Santana. Enticing, infectious, and bold.

Incident At Nashbur dotdotdot
Rhythm (Instrumental)

This is more typically Santana, more a rhythm Latin inspired progression than a song of significance.

Se a Cabo dotdotdot
Noodling (Instrumental)

Rhythmic and tribal, and fun, but not memorable. This seems mostly to be about rhythms and noodling, and is a bit contrived.

Samba Pa Ti dotdotdot
Siesta Bay (Instrumental)

While this is pretty, it's also very slow and does not command attention. It is emotional and fluidly delivered. It has a warm feel, almost sun on the bay at siesta time. It does evoke watery images, and could be surfed up easily enough.