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July 31, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Santana, high on life, plays White River Friday | Concert preview

(Ruben Martin / RCA Records)

(Ruben Martin / RCA Records)

Back in the glory days of San Francisco’s Fillmore Ballroom, Carlos Santana’s bold wedding of Latin boogie and psychedelic rock opened new musical territory.

Before this year, however, the 67-year-old 10-time Grammy winner — who appears Friday, Aug. 1, with a reunion band that includes Seattle-based drummer Michael Shrieve at White River Amphitheatre — had never dipped into Latin pop in a big way.

His new album, “Corazón,” fills that gap. The compilation features Santana’s gleaming, spiritual guitar soaring over vocals by such Latin American stars as Colombia’s Juanes, Mexico’s Lila Downs and Miami’s Gloria Estefan.

Though the album is wildly overproduced and its artist choices aimed disappointingly at the marketplace — something more grass roots would have been cooler — there are some strong moments, particularly the sizzling opener, “Saidera,” featuring Brazilian Samuel Rosa (of Skank) and Downs’ lilting version of the Pink Martini song, “Una Noche En Napoles.”

“Corazon” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard album chart, but in a phone interview earlier this month, Santana — a onetime devotee of the late guru Sri Chinmoy — came across as undaunted, a man of unshakable convictions and sometimes startling levels of self-belief.

On one of the new album’s least appealing tracks, “Oye 2014,” a remake of “Oye, Come Va” that amounts to a salsa-praise song to Santana himself, Miami rapper Pitbull name checks stars from many walks of life — including Nelson Mandela.

Apparently unfazed by this inflated constellation, Santana said, “We’ve been doing the same thing from the beginning. He learned from the Black Panthers. We did two concerts for free for the Black Panthers. We’re not comparing or equating. But it’s the same principle — to transform fear and conquer fear forever.”

Santana’s philosophizing about another track, “Mal Bicho” (slang for “jerk”) featuring Argentine ska band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, was more convincing.

“The song is about a negative, cynical person and is about being the opposite of that,” he said. “[On this CD], we invited people to take the high road, and look at the big picture and then be grateful that you can actually see you can make a difference in the world. The more you tap into your own central self-worth, your own light, then you can create miracles.”

If Santana is a little high on life, it’s understandable. In late 2010, he married the great drummer Cindy Blackman, whom he met when she auditioned for the band.

“The way she looked at me,” he recalled. “I had been divorced three or four years. She came at the right time, bringing her light. I love that she has supreme conviction. Not arrogance. That is extremely attractive to me.”

Earnest nostrums aside, Santana still wields a sharp ax, especially on the tranced jazz-rock fusion cut with tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, “Yo Soy La Luz” (“I Am the Light”).

And once the music starts, it’s a wide open field — ready for a spark.

Santana: The Corazón Tour

7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, at White River Amphitheatre, 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Road, Auburn; $31.50-$91.50 (800-745-3000 or

Comments | More in Rock/Pop, World | Topics: "Corazon", Carlos Santana, Concert Preview


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