Santana & McLaughlin – Live At Montreux 2011: Invitation To Illumination (Eagle Records)

Genre: Rock/Blues/Jazz/World

Carlos Santana is quite capable of carrying a double disc live set all on his own. The decision to surround himself with a plethora of world class musicians – including wingman John McLaughlin – makes for on of the most immersive aural experiences of the year.

This sensational set may be four years old but its release is well worth the wait. Keeping it in the family, Santana’s wife Cindy is given the honour of a funked-up drum solo three songs from the end and rhythm fans are in for a treat with Paul Rekow on the congas and percussion.

David Matthews does a lovely job on the keys and there’s even a cameo from Claude Nobs on the harmonica. Every one of Santana’s friends and family adds to a creative melting pot that makes this a recipe for rock success but of course the main man takes some beating.

Santana can be forgiven for his rambling welcome but if his multi-lingual chat to the Montreux masses is just too much then skip straight to CD one’s medley. Here one of the world’s finest guitarists fuses Peace On Earth with A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall, Stairway To Heaven and Our Prayer to create a delicious jam straight from rock and roll heaven.

Wrapping up with A Love Supreme and Shake It Up And Go it’s difficult to imagine a finer showcase for natural talent and intuitive musicianship. Santana is the master of consistency and, in tandem with McLaughlin, Live At Montreux is another feather in Carlos’ colourful cap. Simon Rushworth

RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Santastic