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Ghost Canyon

Title - Invitation To Illumination: Live At Montreux 2011
Artist - Santana & McLaughlin

On July 1st 2011, Montreux hosted the reunion of two master guitarists Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin with their Invitation To Illumination concert. Both musicians have been regulars at Montreux across the years but this was the first time they headlined their own concert together. The show features most of the tracks from their classic 1973 album Love Devotion Surrender mixed in with a wealth of other material.

The evening was a showcase of supreme musical virtuosity and spirituality and typified the approach of these two great artists. It is certainly a performance not to be missed visually, for sure, but to hear it via a record player (or CD player), well, that is also an incredible musical treat.

The first CD of this two disc set opens with some gentle, polite orchestral chimes that lead into 'Echoes Of Angels', we then get a rather long spoken word introduction (in both English and French), before we finally get into the real music on the album, an enchanting 'The Life Divine.' [So, trust me, you can totally skip "Track 1" on this first disc!] That then gives way to an incredible Medley ('Peace On Earth,' 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall,' 'Stairway To Heaven' / 'Our Prayer' / 'SOCC') which in turn bleeds seamlessly into 'Right Off.' The guitar-heavy jam showcases both the phenomenal guitarists at their finest, and after a long introduction by Santana himself before 'Vuelta Abajo,' in which he talks about his gratitude in being there that night, and comments that had been coming to him about his music, we then move swiftly into Vashkar.'

The duo slow down the pace on the 10 minute plus 'The Creator Has A Master Plan,' allowing the tracks laid back, Latin soul feel to ooze through beautifully. Inclusive of soulful vocals from Tony Lindsay, the track is followed by both guitarists playing acoustically on John Coltrane's 'Naima.' The first CD is rounded out by a second melody, of sorts, that is mainly comprised on 'Lotus Land Op 47, No. 1,' but also includes some gentle 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' musical licks in there. As you would expect, the track incorporates a vibrant Spanish feel and brings the disc to a magnificent culmination.

The second disc begins with the funky blues of 'Downstairs Blues' (made famous by Lightning Hopkins) which instantly allows the guys to trade off licks together with expert live timing. That's followed by the stand out jam track on either CD, the INCREDIBLE 10 minute long 'Venus / Upper Egypt.' My goodness, what a simply breathtakingly incredible track this truly, honestly is. After some thanks, another stage introduction, and a very quick time out, that's backed by the soaring 12 minute long 'Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord,' before another medley comes forth in the shape of a funky Miles Davis tribute on 'Black Satin' / 'Smooth Criminal' / 'Land Of 1000 Dances.'

After an impressive, albeit rather quick 'Cindy Blackman Santana Drum Solo,' we get a smooth 'A Love Supreme,' which also includes yet another full band introduction. The set, and therein, this fantastic two CD set, closes with 'Shake It Up And Go,' which features Claude Nobs on harmonica and some simply breathtaking lead guitar work from McLaughlin himself. The ZZ Top-inspired song makes for a pulsating ending to what was an incredible live performance that night in Montreux in 2011.

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