Divine Light

1/ Angel of Air (Santana,Coster) 11.19 2/ A Love Supreme (J. Coltrane) 6.49 3/ Illuminations (Santana,Coster) 4.31 4/ The Life Divine (McLaughlin) 6.44 5/ Naima (J. Coltrane) 4.05 6/ Angel of Sunlight (Santana,Coster) 14.49 7/ Bliss: The Eternal Now (A. Coltrane) 5.50 8/ Meditation (McLaughlin) 1.58 9/ Bliss: The Eternal Now — Return (A. Coltrane) 4.04 Created at Orange Music Studios, West Orange, New Jersey Engineer: Robert Musso Reconstruction and mix translation by Bill Laswell Tracks 1,3,6,7 and 9 originally engineered by Glen Kolotkin and George Engfer Tracks 2,4,5 and 8 originally engineered by Glen Kolotkin Tracks 1,3,6,7 and 9 originally produced by Alice Coltrane, Carlos Santana and Tom Coster Tracks 2,4,5 and 8 originally produced by Carlso Santana and Mahavishnu John McLaughlin Material Design: John Brown Axiom/Text Coordination: Bill Murphy Realization: Steven Saporta/Invasion Group Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper, Turtle Tone Studio, NYC
Carlos Santana: guitar; Armando Peraza: congas; (1,3,6,7,9) Alice Coltrane: acoustic piano, harp; Tom Coster: electric piano; Jules Broussard: soprano sax; Phil Browne: tamoura (male); David Holland: acoustic bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums; STRING SECTION - Murray Adler (Concert Master), Ron Folsom, Bill Henderson, Nathen Kaproff, Gordon Marron, Paul Shure and Charles Veal: violins; Anne Goodman, Glenn Grab, Jackie Lustgarten and Fred Seykora: celli; Marilyn Baker, Myer Bello, Rollice Dale, Alan Harshman, Myra Kestenbaum and David Schwartz: violas; James Bond: bass; (2,4,5,8) John McLaughlin: guitar, piano; Khalid Yasin (Larry Young): organ; Doug Rauch: bass; Billy Cobham: drums; Don Alias: drums; Jan Hammer: drums; Mike Shrieve: drums.

Strings arranged and conducted by Alice Coltrane

          2001 - Columbia/Legacy (USA), CK 61384 (CD)
Note: Tracks 1,3,6,7 and 9 taken from the 1974 Alice Coltrane/Carlos Santana album 'Illuminations.
Note: Tracks 2,4,5 and 8 taken from the 1973 John McLaughlin/Carlos Santana album 'Love, Devotion, Surrender'.


While no one can fault the Supernatural forces that fixed the footlights back on Carlos Santana, they missed a spot. Lost amidst the Santana-as-hit-maker hype was Santana the mystic, the spiritual disciple of John Coltrane. Part of the jazz Mt. Rushmore, Coltrane's musical gifts on saxophone followed his personal muse into Islamic and Indian music and religion. His journey -- and the marathon solos that documented it -- influenced many a rock musician, including Santana.

Mid '70s albums like Love, Devotion and Surrender and Illuminations seared with the same unmistakable guitar sound and torrents of Afro-Cuban percussion as the radio hits, but this was challenging, intricate music. He and his crew back then were as polished and passionate as Return to Forever, Weather Report and the other major jazz-rock fusion groups of the day. But the long-winded musical expressions were too much for album-rock radio even back then, and way too hard for Top 40 to handle. Enter Bill Laswell, restless plunderer of underground sounds for the head -- and long-time fusion freak. Three years ago, Panthalassa, his reworking of Miles Davis' electric explorations, helped encourage a fresh and favorable look at the most maligned era of Miles' music. Divine Light aims to capture some of that same excitement around another musical icon, and it may very well succeed.

Using tracks from the two aforementioned albums as source material, Laswell creates an astonishingly seamless and breathtaking suite. The seamlessness is an especially nice trick, considering that the two albums were radically different. Love, Devotion and Surrender featured a full band including organist Larry Young and fellow guitar-hero/student-of-Eastern-philosophy John McLaughlin. Illuminations, though, featured Coltrane's widow Alice on piano, harp, and strings conducting.

But Laswell mixes up enough glue to bring all the pieces together. There's a balanced and logical flow from track to track, with Laswell using the opposite styles of the source LPs to great advantage. The vigorous version of Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" fades almost imperceptibly into the slowly swelling "Illuminations," setting the stage for the pulsating "A Love Divine," whose conga solo on the long fade-out sets the stage for the tender Coltrane ballad "Naima," and so it goes. Trance-like elements ease the transitions, and keep the spiritual vibe intact from start to finish. Of course, the real glue here is Carlos Santana, whose fluid finger-work and deeply felt tone sound almost, for lack of a better word, supernatural.

Mark Reynolds (courtesy of the Hear/Say website)


This strange but delightful album is a reworking of two of Santana's greatest solo albums (Love, Devotion, Surrender and Illuminations) from the early 70's. I am generally very wary of this type of "démarche artistique" as I have heard many atrocities especially when mixings are mentioned. So before picking this up, I heard roughly half of it at the store and headed on out with this record safely tucked in my jacket's pocket. Speaking of the jacket, or cover, the album boast a completely new artwork not reminiscent of the original ones: we have a superb digipack with a sober blue artwork, but once you open up the fold-out, you will be convinced of the seriousness that was paid to this object.

On of the first thing I must is that Laswell did not screw around too much with the original tracks, just mixing the tracks from both album together and just content of linking them up by creating discreet bridges. So even if both albums are not complete on this single disc issue, the original oeuvres are completely respected and the purist can safely indulge into them. Yes, there is one track missing from LDS and two from Illuminations but we get Eternal Now twice. I will not spend time describing the music on this album, because it is written in the original album reviews. Happy reading and a superb listening.

5 stars out of 5

Sean Trane (courtesy of the Prog Archives website)


Bass player / producer Bill Laswell performs the same reconstructive surgery on the music of CARLOS SANTANA that he previously did for electric Miles Davis (Panthalassa, 1998), and with equally stunning results. This time he combines a pair of complementary but very different albums in his digital blender: Santana's 1974 solo LP "Illuminations", and "Love Devotion Surrender", his 1973 collaboration with fellow guitar legend and Sri Chinmoy disciple JOHN McLAUGHLIN. The track selection is split pretty evenly between the two original LPs, but the new musical facelift seamlessly melds everything together into an exciting hybrid even stronger than the sum of its parts.

The music itself showcases two virtuosos at the top of their game, and newly transfigured by the spiritual teachings of their shared guru. But don't let the starry-eyed Eastern mysticism of song titles like "The Life Divine" or "Bliss: The Eternal Now" scare you away. The performances owe their (considerable) energy more to the engine of early '70s Jazz-Rock Fusion, in this case with a strong John Coltrane connection: "LDS" was a tribute album of sorts to the celebrated Jazz saxman, and "Illuminations" was recorded with Coltrane's widow Alice, who contributed the gorgeous harp and string arrangements.

What Laswell adds is a discreet measure of enhancement, clarification and focus, all applied with the utmost respect for his sources. This isn't your typically slapdash remix album. It holds together more like an extended sixty-minute suite, from the pinpoint acoustic perfection of McLaughlin's "Naima" to the ecstatic fusion guitar fury of Santana's "Angel of Sunlight", and from the unbelievably lush orchestral sweep of "Angel of Air" to the propulsive rhythms of "A Love Supreme", in which the two guitar heroes trade lightning solos over a bed of Latin percussion.

Imagine a shotgun marriage between SANTANA (the band) and McLaughlin's first MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA (members of both groups are prominently featured), with Laswell presiding over the ceremony. The only reason I'm denying his remix the five stars of an acknowledged masterpiece is because all the material is pre-existing (and I'm not familiar with the original Illuminations album). But this disc is truly something special, and deserves more exposure than it so far has received here at Prog Archives.

4 stars out of 5

Neu!mann (courtesy of the Prog Archives website)