Santana, the group, and Carlos Santana, the guitarist, have been around for 10 years now, and during that time both have gone through a series of musical inclinations. The Santana concert at Constitution Hall last night was billed as a "Celebration of a Decade" and it was a fitting chronicle of the different styles and enduring constants which have characterized their Latin rock sound.
The swirling rhythms and searing solos of the group's early work were featured on songs like "Soul Sacrifice" and "Black Magic Woman" while the metaphysical mumblings of their jazz period were represented by selections from the record "Caravanserai." Santana's latest rock-oriented phase dominated the show, with blasting chords and soulful vocals which threatened to lift the roof off the staid old hall.
Appropriately, the center of attention was the leader, Carlos Santana. Throughout the concert, his guitar work was dazzling, with abrupt changes in mood and feel and with a great deal of invention. While many of his counterparts have mellowed with age, Santana is still capable of unleashing the fiery barrages of notes which first excited listeners at Woodstock in 1969.
Santana's performance was not merely a celebration of past musical successes.It was a celebration of music itself.