It takes some cojones to tackle John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”, but that’s exactly how Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin kick off their mega-spiritual Love Devotion Surrender. The pair goes on to bookend side one with a likewise heavy spiritual jazz response to JC’s anthem called “The Life Divine”. What must Santana fans have made of this?
Santana is, of course, no stranger to overplaying, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is, given its jazz-rock impetus, an all out note-fest at times, with none of the pop flavour of his titular band. And yet, in the context of a prayer offering to both the Divine and John Coltrane, such indulgence makes perfect sense. Something of a transmutation to the guitar of Coltrane’s “sheets of sound”, Love Devotion Surrender is held together harmonically by organist Larry Young, who allows Devadip and Mahavishnu to launch into note torrents, particularly on side two’s joyful “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord”. And there is time for respite in the form of “Meditation” and another Coltrane cover, “Naima”; with what comes previously, both have the feel of post-coital cigarettes. A challenging and rewarding listen.