Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Carlos Santana never seems to bask in his own talents. Instead, he frequently honors his influences like Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane. In July 2004, at the Montreux Jazz Festival he presented a trio of his favorite bluesman and together they create a fabulous series of concerts.
Backed by a five-piece band, 67-year-old guitarist Bobby Parker is first up with a 70-minute set. In the liner notes, Santana remembers Parker's 1961 hit "Watch Your Step" was a standard around Tijuana. Parker and his band are journeymen, delivering the blues, plain and simple without flash or theatrics. They cover familiar terrain, singing about "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" and being "So Glad I Found You" in a set filled with originals and covers.
During the last three songs, Santana and his keyboards player Chester Thompson join the band. They start with "Chill Out,” which Santana played with John Lee Hooker. Santana creates a warm, golden tone with his playing, and he pushes the rest of the band to greater heights. Even Parker played better.
The performance of 80-year-old Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown is especially poignant because it occurred a couple of months before he was diagnosed with lung cancer and a year before his death. This 71-minute set finds him leading a four-piece group and the talent of all the players is up a notch.
However, don't call Brown a bluesman. He considered "my music American music – Texas style," and his set offers a variety of sounds. After playing the Duke Ellington standard "I'm Beginning To See The Light," Brown switches from guitar to fiddle for “Sunrise Cajun Style.” The band then plays the jazz tune “Honey Boy.” Singer Barbara Morrison takes the stage for “Further On Up The Road” and her vocals blend well in the mix.