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Africa Speaks & Legends Abound

Carlos Santana makes magic with the singer Buika on his latest release “Africa Speaks.”

Carlos Santana makes magic with the singer Buika on his latest release “Africa Speaks.” With permission/Concord Records

In the world of listening to musicians over a span of time, there are times when you can tune in or out of their career, depending on their style changes or your taste in music.

It’s in this vein that my investment in the career of Carlos Santana has hovered. Growing up with FM rock radio, you’d hear him sporadically on his now classic songs. You’d hear that he played at Woodstock. But like many stations during the 70s and beyond, they’d stick to the same formula and play the same songs. So, it’s not that’d I’d always turn the dial when he came on, but as my tastes changed, I didn’t invest any time in exploring.

This is not to say that I don’t respect his long, storied career. When he got inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I didn’t scoff or pound my fists with exclamations of “why him!?” He earned it.

Fast forward to this year. Santana’s output has been remarkable. He’s released “Mona Lisa,” earlier and now he’s just released “Africa Speaks.” On this CD, he’s partnered with the singer Buika, who he happened to find during an internet search for singers to work with on his latest album.

 Another partner on this new CD is producer Rick Rubin. If you don’t know about his storied career, then just know that Rubin has worked with a slew of amazing musicians—from early Beastie Boys and Run DMC to other legends such as Tom Petty, Neil Diamond and Johnny Cash. Rubin knows his way around a production studio and how to reinvigorate musicians who can stand on their own merits. I mean, listen, Rubin got Neil Diamond to pick up his guitar again and just record songs with his voice and his guitar—something Diamond hadn’t done in a long time.

With “Africa Speaks,” Rubin and Santana weave their way around African beats while mixing in Latin grooves. Santana seems re-energized by the collaboration and says they recorded 49 songs in 10 days. He also says “If Miles Davis or John Coltrane were in the room and they watched this music go down, they would be like, ‘Damn! How did you do that?”

They whittled those 49 songs down to 11. From that, we’ll check out the first two tracks (and eventually all of them), “Africa Speaks,” and “Batonga.”

On a similar note, we’ll also hear from Making Movies—a band who also seems to put out a lot of great music right now. They also like to partner with other amazing musicians. Off of their release called “Amer’kana” we’ll check out their collaboration with David Hildago of Los Lobos.

 Mixed throughout the first hour will be tracks from Alex Cuba (who has a new CD coming out soon), the big L.A. band QuiztalAngelique Kidjo, Femm Nameless, Susto, and Eljuri—doing a remake of her song “Empuja.”

Plus, we’ll hear another beautiful cut from Petite Celine’s CD “Man Made Fire,” called “We Were All Good Kids.” Celine, the Franco-American singer— is working on coming down from Brooklyn to Richmond in July. I’ll keep you posted about where she’ll play as well as when I can interview her on the show.

For hour two, we’ll hear another new song off of “Mass Manipulation,” the latest CD from the legendary Reggae band Steel Pulse, whose last album came out 15-years ago.

Then for a bit of fun, I’ve pulled together three songs all dedicated the mysterious Rudy. Their Ska tracks and they’re all inspired by the closing song of Presidential candidate Bill de Blasio campaign by the Clash “Rudie Can’t Fail.” Why he picked this song, I have no idea. But it got me thinking of all the Ska songs with “Rudy” in the title. In the version I’ll play, we’ll actually hear Joe Strummer and his last band, the Mescaleros cover this song. The other two are from the Specials AKA (“A Message to Rudy”), and from K-Man and the 45s (“Rudy Don’t Smoke.”).

 We’ll also have a Brazilian mix with songs off of Red Hot & Rio 2, including Beck and Seu Jorge, Angelique Kidjo and Forro in the Dark along with Brazilians Girls, and Superhuman Happiness.

Rounding out the show will be tracks from Meklit, Leni Stern, Jupiter & Okwess, Marta Gomez and RAM 7.

The World Music Show hits the airwaves Saturday nights at 8 pm on WCVE Music. 93.1 & 1078.3FM or can be streamed via this website. Also on this site will be live, streaming track listings. Follow me on Twitter @wcveworldmusic or on Facebook at The World Music Show on WCVE.