Santana’s new magic woman: ‘In Search Of Mona Lisa’


Santana’s “In Search of Mona Lisa” is a three-song masterpiece.

Artistic beyond words, his fingers dancing across six strings with both high purpose and grace, Carlos Santana lives his life by a heart and soul full of kindness and faith.

The gorgeous, oftentimes fiery, and absolutely intoxicating sounds of Santana have symbolized all that for more than 50 years. “In Search Of Mona Lisa” epitomizes classic Santana music in all its glory. Conceived from a vision, the EP amounts to 20 minutes of electrifying awe.

Carlos Santana wrote the EP’s three Latin-infused songs following his first visit to Paris’ Louvre Museum, and his rapt engagement with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Santana felt the lady in the masterpiece address him, asking “Do you remember me, when we were lovers in another time?” The encounter repeated itself months later in a vivid dream, prompting a quick session of writing and recording. “Do You Remember Me” opens the set like an awakening, the day’s first tentative steps fashioned by the distinctive, exquisite notes from Santana’s guitar. Then, as if a jolt of java hits, the eight-piece Santana Band kicks into a samba, the rhythms, and the accented chants of “Mona, Mona Lisa” by vocalists Andy Vargas and Ray Greene, evoking a dance of allure and amour.

Next, the soul-shaking rocker “In Search of Mona Lisa” introduces the penetrating voice of Cornell CC Carter to the Santana domain. Carter brings the house down on top of a monumental groove, as he recites the peculiar details of the mystical rendezvous.

Every melodic second of it fascinates. The atmospheric “Lovers from Another Time” concludes the experience, Santana’s guitar plunging into emotions ranging from wistfulness to restlessness to full-blown excitement amid ethereal, programmed strings, and the heartbeat thumping of the legendary jazz bassist Ron Carter.

Spiritual and even supernatural, inspirational and absolutely essential, these songs will stand alone. They will not appear on the upcoming new, Rick Rubin-produced Santana album. What an incredible gift this is for the meantime, and forever.

— Tom Clarke

‘In Search of Mona Lisa’
Release: Friday, Jan. 25, 2019
Label: Concord Records

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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