Thursday, March 24, 2016

81. Santana - Abraxas

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Annunciation is the first painting I painted after my initial New York awakening.  I was 28 years old and at the peak of my molecular bio-energy.  You can feel the sudden burst of the
Big Apple's electric zap in the composition after all the early years of adolescent brooding over potatoes and eggs and the romantic nostalgia of the preceding Flight to Egypt.

In those days I had an obsessional passion for the female body that lasted deep into my thirties (to be replaced by rocks 'n' stones). . .

Years later Carlos Santana saw a reproduction of the Annunciation in a magazine and wanted it for the cover of his all time best selling Abraxas album.  It did me a world
of good. I saw the album pinned to the wall in a shaman's mud hut in Niger and inside a Rastafarian's ganja hauling truck in Jamaica.  I was in good global company,
muchissimas gracias, Carlito!

The text above is edited extracts from Mati Klarwein's book 'Collected Works 1959-1975'.

The image of the original painting was Crosshatched and positioned at right. The images of the angel and Carlos with guitar at left were added. The calligraphy
"mi ritmo bueno pa gozar!" is mine. The Abraxas angel is from SantanAmigos, Carlos' photo is from SlipStreamRadio.  

This is the original painting.  

No. 58, Rate Your Music, The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time; No. 202, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000;
No. 207, Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; No. 244, Billboard, The 300 Best-Selling Albums of All Time.

No. 13, Rolling Stone, The 100 Greatest Album Covers.

Album cover from a painting by Mati Klarwein. Album produced by Fred Catero & Carlos Santana. CBS 1970.

Abraxas was a word of mystic meaning in the system of the Gnostic Basilides, being there applied to the "Great Archon", the princeps of the 365 spheres. The word is found in Gnostic
texts such  as the Holy Book  of the Great  Invisible Spirit,  and also  appears in the Greek Magical Papyri.  It was engraved  on certain  antique gemstones,  called on that account 
Abraxas stones, which were used as amulets or charms. As the initial spelling on stones was 'Abrasax', the spelling of 'Abraxas' seen today probably originates in the confusion 
made between the Greek letters Sigma and Xi in the Latin transliteration.

The seven letters spelling its name may represent each of the seven classic planets. The word may be related to Abracadabra, although other explanations exist.

There are similarities and differences between such figures in reports about Basilides's teaching, ancient Gnostic texts, the larger Greco-Roman magical traditions, and modern 
magical and  esoteric writings.  Opinions  abound  on Abraxas,  who in recent centuries has been claimed  to be both an Egyptian  god and a demon.  The Swiss psychiatrist
Carl Jung wrote a short Gnostic treatise in 1916 called The Seven Sermons to the Dead, which called Abraxas the supreme power of being transcending both God and
devil and unites all opposites into one being. Wiki

Abraxas was deemed "culturally, historically, or artistically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in their National Recording Registry in 2016.

The San Francisco Bay Area brock scene of the late '60s bwas one that encouraged  radical experimentation  and discouraged the  type of mindless conformity  that's often
plagued corporate rock. When one considers just how different Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, and the Grateful Dead sounded, it becomes obvious just
how much it was encouraged. In the mid-'90s, an album as eclectic as Abraxas would be considered a marketing exec's worst nightmare. But at the dawn of
the 1970s,  this unorthodox  mix of rock, jazz, salsa, and blues proved  quite successful.  Whether adding  rock elements  to salsa king Tito Puente's
"Oye Como Va," embracing instrumental jazz-rock on "Incident at Neshabur" and "Samba Pa Ti," or tackling moody blues-rock on Fleetwood Mac's
"Black Magic Woman," the band keeps things unpredictable yet cohesive. Many of the Santana albums that came out in the '70s are worth
acquiring, but for novices, Abraxas is an excellent place to start. AllMusic review by Alex Henderson. 

(A) Signing Winds, Crying Beasts - Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen - Oye Como Va - Incident at Nashibur

(B) Se a Cabo - Mother's Daughter - Samba Pa Ti - Hope You're Feeling Better - El Nicoya

"Oye Como Va" live from RockAndDiscoMusic on YouTube.