Customer Reviews: Illuminations
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on June 27, 2002
Of the five albums from Carlos Santana's jazzy period, four can be described as jazz/rock, altho the latter term is sometimes a stretch. Illuminations, Carlos' joint effort with Alice Coltrane, John's widow, cannot be so characterized at all except for one of the four instrumental tracks, "Angel of Sunlight." This jazz/rock fusion, also steeped in raga, is a showcase for the sort of fine guitar soloing expected from Carlos, as well as Santana-style percussion, good bass work, etc. The other three songs are jazz/classical. They are richly textured orchestral arrangements, heavy with sweeping strings arranged by Alice, who herself plays harp and mellotron. Jules Broussard plays flute as well as saxophone. (Where is that Santana percussion section?) Carlos' chief contribution is exquisite, sweet guitar notes, not ripping solos. The result is a majestic, celestial atmosphere, reflecting Carlos' and Alice's spiritual focus of the time. The song titles tell the story: "Angel of Air/Angel of Water," "Bliss: The Eternal Now," and the title cut. This music is not what you normally expect from Santana, but is very pleasant, very lovely, for sure.
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on July 30, 2007
I opine that this has to be Carlos Santana's BEST work EVER. With Alice Coltrane on harp and the beautiful arrangement for small orchestra, this album transports me to the place with all the angels in the picture on the album cover. This is truly a spiritual album and enables me to experience a myriad of many emotions and feelings of which the human mind is capable. This music is timeless and you can really feel LOVE emanating from the music. The album starts out more melodic then gradually melds into a beautiful chaotic kind of fusion reminiscent of the mid to late 70s, all the while still being beautifully chaotic and captivating! This is a prized possession in my music collection. Illuminations used to be out of print for quite awhile, so NOW is the time to buy this beautiful and spiritual album while you can. This album is best listened to in the dark with a good set of headphones, some Ruh Khus incense (made by Primo), and just the lights from your stereo components (or any other party lights you have to hang up). You'll think you died and went to Heaven. Yes, it's THAT GOOD of an album.
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on April 26, 2001
This album ist really, really "cool". The mix of the sounds can't be best. Music hindu, african rythms, blue's sounds, mixed whith perfection. My favorite song is "angel of air", the solo guitar is deep and melodic. This album is indispensable for fans and people who seek uncommon music.
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on January 9, 2007
This is another daring Fusion Jazz Rock musical work for Carlos Santana.
Anybody who bought this album some 30 years ago hardly understood this musical work, since Santana's audiences were totally into different kind of music. For that reason Illuminations was the first Santana release not to go to Gold.
After the release of "love, Devotion and Surrender" and "Caravanserai", both in 1972, Santana continued exploring different routes from the Rock and Latin sounds he already was famous for.
On this album Santana is fully into Fusion, Jazz and Rock; with David Holland on bass, Tom Coster on Keyboards and Alice Coltrane on Harp, topped by a Classical 18 member band. The result is one of Santana's finest accomplishments.
This album is mainly for the lovers of Fusion Jazz Rock, Santana fans and any guitar great sound lover.
If you like this album, make sure to listen to "caravanserai" and "Love, Devotion and Surrender as well". 3 Santana albums that go hand in hand.
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on July 11, 2000
I find this to be one of the best albums to put on and creat to. Paint ,write ,draw, throw clay and imagine a world of possibilities! Goes well with Love Devotion and Surrender tho less rythymic and more like floating on sound.
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on October 1, 2008
I first heard this when I was in my teens, when my old guitar teacher used to play it. I always loved Santana's playing, but (as a fellow reviewer also said) I had to grow up a bit before I could understand this music.

However, once I was able to "hear" this music, it resonated within me, and touched me deeply like few music is able to.

Santana's guitar work is, as is usually the case, passionate and flawless. But even more so on this recording. His tone, phrasing, all marvelous. Alice Coltrane's part in this as harpist, composer / arranger, and keyboardist is the work of a master musician by any standards. From the lush chords, harp work, and string arrangements that sweep through much of the album, to her Hendrix inspired howls and shrieks of joy on the organ in "Angel of Sunlight" are astonishing.

I cannot imagine - and refuse to allow - my CD collection without this one.
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on July 5, 2004
This is the closest album thing to avante garde jazz that
Carlos Santana every did.Featuring brilliantly dramatic string accompanyment by harpist/arranger Alice Coltrane,her harp also
plays a big role.The music is typically otherwordly and if you close your eyes while listening you will believe you are being transported to another world!Wheather orchestral,rock or jazz
the stylistic blend of sound and YES-great sense of melody make
this a high point for both musicians.Alice Coltrane's entire
catalog,by the way,is also definately worth checking out if you like what you hear on this recording!
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on December 22, 1998
Great CD for those who take this type of music seriously. I have driven many a rookie from my house with this CD. Definately not the Eagles
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on December 3, 2000
This Is For Those who have and Open Mind and Heart. Not for those who feel the need to belittle, (due to a lightly valued self), simply because they disagree. Great People Always try to make you feel like you can somehow be great too.
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on August 11, 2011
I seriously have no idea why Illuminations has been receiving the "neglect" treatment all these years. There's nothing even remotely justifiable in that. Let's discuss the main reason you need to give Illuminations a chance. There's a song called "Angel of Sunlight". It's 15 minutes long, and for anybody who appreciates Santana's Love, Devotion & Surrender album (and it's wild spiritual assortment of decorative guitar jams) it should be a given that you absolutely *must* hear this song. It's sensational.

It starts off with some really good, almost Egyptian-resembling speedy guitar work by Santana. This lasts around 3 minutes... and then the pace picks up a little bit more soon after. The notes get better as the pace improves because they become less predictable and less repetitive, and darn near become almost spiritual in nature. As soon as Jules Broussard enters the picture with his extraordinary display of saxophone work, you KNOW you're in for a drastically different treat. His work isn't quite as melodic as I was expecting, but it strongly resembles "Aspirations" from Borboletta and that can only be a REALLY good thing in my world. Anyone who loves that song will almost certainly love this particular section of "Angel of Sunlight" as well.

After the saxophone jam... well truth be told, I have no idea what happens next. It's either a keyboard or a saxophone jamming like mad. It's really hard to believe I can't figure out which instrument it is, but the way it's played... it's odd and confusing to identify to say the least. Whatever this thing is, it eventually reaches a point where it loops up and down, and during this one specific moment, the sound of this mysterious musical instrument then resembles a violin. Hmmm, haha.

Then we come to the conclusion of this piece- Jules Broussard's saxophone and Carlos Santana's intense guitar jam fight each other for a few minutes. They fight each other by being played simultaneously and teasing the listener by making them ask the magic question "Should I focus on the sax work or the guitar playing?" The answer? It's up to you. Just please PLEASE understand that the level of intensity here is astronomically high! Yes I'm excited! :)

Anyway as the two musical instruments jam away like crazy, sometimes Santana's guitar work is the most memorable aspect, while other times Jules Broussard proves he can stand in the same league as anybody by delivering a few memorable notes here and there as well. This is, of course, assuming you're willing to listen contently to the many different things taking place, many of which might just be too darn chaotic and out of control for the average listener.

Surely the average Santana fan wouldn't be able to absorb this kind of relentless intensity- that's why I rcommend this album exclusively for fans of Love, Devotion & Surrender. No, Illuminations is not as good as that classic album (because, to be honest, I just prefer John McLaughlin and Santana together) but it's close.
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