On "Supernatural," his band's impressive new album, guitarist Carlos Santana is heard performing with several special guests, including Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews and Eric Clapton. A similarly collaborative spirit was evident at Merriweather Post Pavilion Monday night, as the guitarist jammed with members of the genre-jumping West Coast ensemble Ozomatli and joined guitarist (and Annapolis-based guitarmaker) Paul Reed Smith for a soaring excursion into the blues.
Still, it wasn't as if Santana--the guitarist or the band--needed the help. Left to his own devices, Carlos Santana unfurled one eloquent, Latin-tinged guitar essay after another. Almost invariably, his solos were distinguished by a series of gracefully sustained melodies that seemed to hang in the air.
As for the group that carries his name, the sextet put to shame most of the youthful "jam bands" touring the country these days. Despite the absence of big-name guests, "(Da Le) Yaleo," "Smooth" and other tunes from "Supernatural" illustrated the band's enduring vitality. And if the group has grown tired of expanding on its old hits, including "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va," there were certainly no signs of fatigue.
Ozomatli opened the show with a kinetic and somewhat chaotic performance, forging funk, jazz, hip-hop, salsa and rock into a high-spirited amalgam of contemporary sounds. Though some of its tunes focused on social and political issues, the band's musical thrust was relentlessly brassy, percussive and exuberant.