Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2017

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The band behind Santana



Santana percussionist, Karl Perazz

If You Go

  • What: “Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits”
  • When: 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday (Sept. 4-6); Sept. 9, 11, 12, 14, 15
  • Where: The Joint at the Hard Rock
  • Tickets: $60.50 to $160.50; 693-5220

Latin rock band Santana returns tonight to begin its second session as resident headliner at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Band leader Carlos Santana seemed pleased with the arrangement when the first run ended in June.

“I like it a lot — less taking airplanes, moving equipment like crazy. I’m going to do the same thing whether I do it in Istanbul or Tijuana or whatever, it’s just that I’m in one place,” he said before moving into his metaphysical musician mode. “I’m so grateful to the people who come.

“We’re not invested in false illusions, whether it’s Bob Dylan or John Lennon. We want the same thing, which is like utilize music to hopefully invite people to change their perceptions about being victims or unworthy or sinners or wretched.”

Santana, which formed in 1966 during San Francisco’s psychedelic period, is known for long concerts with extended jams. But the Vegas shows stuck to a defined set list of the hits with some flexibility, but not a lot.

“When we play outside Las Vegas, we make everything longer, more chewy. We extend,” Santana said. “Here, it’s like a garden that you come in and each flower is a perfect blossom. Nothing is wasted in here.”

During the residency, Santana will perform about 36 times a year at The Joint. After a short September run, the band returns in November.

Before these sessions, we caught up with two members of the band, percussionist Karl Perazzo and trumpeter Bill Ortiz.

Karl Perazzo

When he was 15 years old, Karl Perazzo began performing in 1975 with a Santana — Carlos’ younger brother Jorge — in the band Malo.

He played with Latin jazz pioneer Cal Tjader, toured with the likes of Sheila E and Prince before returning to San Francisco. In 1991 he received a phone call from Jorge Santana telling him his brother Carlos was looking for a timbale player.

“I went to audition and I’ve been with him ever since,” Perazzo says. “For a percussionist, performing with Santana is everything,” he says. “It was my childhood dream. My prayers were answered.

“He’s absolutely very generous and very spiritual. He’s a man that knows what he wants musically. He’s a great teacher and a great student. He’s always searching like we all are, whether spiritually or musically. That’s the secret — always keep the student mentality so you are always learning.”

Bill Ortiz

Bill Ortiz, 51, is well-known on the San Francisco music scene.

“One thing about the Bay Area is its cultural diversity,” he says. “There’s a Latin scene, a jazz scene, an R&B scene, a reggae scene — all kinds of music that kind of blends together. Musicians there kind of cross the boundaries.”

Ortiz has played with a diverse group of artists, including Beyonce Knowles, Boz Scaggs, Tito Puente, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. He joined Santana in 2000 after recording with him on “Milagro” and “Supernatural.”

“He had seen me play over the years with other groups and he’d come sit in with the group I was playing with and we would talk,” Ortiz says.

“I resonate with how he views being a bandleader, keeping music fresh and not putting it in park. Every day you reach down deep and pull it out for the audience.”

Ortiz just released his first album, “From Where I Stand,” which includes 13 original compositions that show nu-jazz, neo-soul and funk influences.

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