The Jazzcat

Santana speaks the truth!

by on Jun.05, 2004, under News


Santana makes an accurate

description of how jazz and its heros are respected in this country.

This is and article written by George Varga and I wanted to share it

with you!

 A hippie

at heart, Carlos Santana has long championed music as a potent force

for creating positive vibrations that – as this veteran  of the 1969 Woodstock festival puts it – “can change your molecular  structure.”

But the legendary rocker sounded

uncharacteristically angry during a discussion about the recent death

of one of his musical heroes, jazz drum icon Elvin Jones, who died May

18 of heart failure.

 Santana, who will be honored in Los Angeles

as the 2004 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year on Aug. 30, is

incensed that Jones' death elicited scant media coverage. He expressed

his frustration during a recent interview from his San Rafael office.



really embarrassed for this nation, and for MTV and VH1 and Rolling

Stone, because it was a very racist thing not to acknowledge this most

important musician when he passed,” said Santana, whose 1999 album,

“Supernatural,” won nine Grammys and has sold more than 25 million



 “For them

to (play up) Ozzy Osbourne and other corny-ass white people, but not

Elvin, is demeaning and I'm really embarrassed to live in this country.”


mustachioed guitarist and bandleader first heard Jones in 1965 on the

John Coltrane Quartet's epic album “A Love Supreme,” about a year after

the teenaged Santana moved to San Francisco from Tijuana

and became an American citizen. He was immediately struck by the force

of the quartet's music and the impact of Jones' polyrhythmic drumming.

 “When that intro comes in on 'A Love Supreme' it's like the gates of  heaven

opening,” Santana, 56, said. “In fact, when I die, if I don't hear 'A

Love Supreme,' I'll turn back; I'll know I'm in the wrong place. For

me, Elvin was Numero Uno, forever, for all ages, for all existence. I

miss him terribly; I've been playing his music nonstop since he died,

especially 'Agenda' (from Jones' 1969 'Poly-Currents') with Joe Farrell

(on sax). He was a supreme drummer who was doing things that were

totally different than anyone else.

 “When I

hear Elvin's music I hear the pyramids, I hear African and

pre-Columbian music, and I hear the future. Elvin is the beat of life

itself, and his music transcends 'clever' or 'cute' or any

superlatives. When he and Coltrane played, and everyone else in the

quartet dropped out, that's what Jimi Hendrix would play if he was

still alive. That's what John McLaughlin wants to play, and he's alive,

because there is nothing more pure or vibrant than Coltrane and Elvin.”

It is because he holds Jones in such

high esteem that Santana was angry at the absence of media tributes to

the masterful drummer, who was 76 when he died and kept performing

until just weeks before his death.

 The reason for the slight, Santana believes, is a matter of racial and cultural prejudice.


Miles (Davis) died (in 1991), for four hours in France they stopped

everything on TV and radio – all the regular programming – and just

showed Miles for four hours, all through France,”

 Santana recalled. “Here in the U.S., it's embarrassing (how jazz is treated). People should be ashamed of themselves.”

 MTV and

VH1 are virtually jazz-free, and the music has historically been held

in much higher esteem abroad than here, in its homeland. But Santana

believes exceptions should be made for musicians as notable as Jones,

who Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron hailed as “a major force to be

reckoned with” who could “wow the pants off a jazz fan or non-jazz fan”


“If I would've been running MTV, I

would've stopped all the corny stuff they show and shown one of Elvin's

(drum) solos. Because he represents the highest level of creativity,

like Duke Ellington,” Santana said.

“America is such an ignorant country. I understand that I'm hard on America,

but if you look at all the (alarming) things on CNN, (you'll see) we

need to grow up quickly. We need to crystallize our existence because

we place economic values over spiritual ones.

“I'm hurt. And if I was a little hard

or cruel with MTV and VH1, they deserve it. They need to stop showing

what they are showing, and show real musicians. Why do they keep

showing such stupidity? MTV needs to reassess its priorities.”

George Varga: (619)293-2253;

By George Varga


 The SAN DIEGO Union-Tribune

 May 30, 2004






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