Always a very centered and spiritual person, Santana’s view of his latest album is that of a project meant to be a salve for the existential damage the pandemic has caused and continues to inflict on the world.
“This music is what I call mystical medicine music to heal a world infected with fear and darkness,” he said.
Like “Supernatural” before it, “Blessings and Miracles” has an eclectic array of talent contributing to the proceedings. Whereas Santana was joined by Eric Clapton, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews and CeeLo Green on the first go-round, this batch of 15 songs finds Chris Stapleton, Corey Glover, Steve Winwood and Kirk Hammett contributing. An appearance by Santana’s longtime friend Chick Corea also marked the late jazz legend’s last studio recording. The biggest difference was that COVID-19 circumstances demanded remote creativity, a factor that didn’t faze Santana at all.
“The procedure for me is very simple — I close my eyes, hear [who I’m playing with] and [they’re] right next to me,” he said. “That’s how I function. Where I am, being 74, my imagination is infinitely more intense, so I can just close my eyes and I’m right next to [whoever I’m recording with]. I know not to step on their voice, honor their space and know when to come in. How much passion, emotion and energy to put in there to make it real. It’s such a phenomenon to work with artists and we have yet to shake hands or be in the same room, but that didn’t stop us.”
With concerts happening again, Santana was asked whether he was ready to get back on the touring circuit and what fans can expect when they come out to see him play.
“I knew that it was going to be intense to reenter with this energy when I’ve been in Kauai for a while, so I hired a trainer,” he said. “It’s a lady who trained me physically with breathing and exercises. What I learned was balance, equilibrium and confidence. I’m ready. At this particular point in my life, I can actually feel that I’m one with each person. I feel people need a spiritual boost.
“I remember in the Vietnam days, there used to be monks who would pour gasoline over themselves and light themselves up,” Santana said. “That’s what I do. I light myself on fire so people can see me for miles and they can feel it. That fire is aspiration. I’ve aspired, since I can remember, to be more than a dishwasher, a guitar player or a person. I aspire to be a sentient being that makes a difference on this planet. It just so happens that I get to do it with a guitar.”
Santana with Earth, Wind & Fire
7 p.m. Aug. 24. $20-$149. Lakewood Amphitheatre, 1932 Pryor Road, Atlanta. 404-443-5000, www.livenation.com.