CARLOS: The Santana Journey Review – Entertaining, Engaging, Captivating, A Must See

CARLOS: The Santana Journey, from Sony Picture Classics and Trafalgar Releasing, presents the story of one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Carlos Santana, from his humble beginnings to global dominance, icon, and legend.

The documentary begins with voice over as the camera captures the vastness of an empty horizon. The dirt and dust rising as a car travels a lonesome highway asking, "do you believe in magic?"

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Santana narrates his journey as he travels back in time to his floorless, earth-caked, home, and a family whose livelihood depended on his father's violin playing in a mariachi band. Even as he explains it, we understand it wasn't the surroundings, it was the song, the unheard melody of change that drove him to challenge his father's idea for him, his family's belief about him, and even societies belief to become what he knew, innately, he would be.

Through the documentary, we see the man he is now, and travel, for some to the days when the music scene was exploding in places like San Francisco and in the late 1960s everywhere, a new sound, a freeing sound that brought color to the imagination and with it, as we see and hear narrated, for some the notion that expanding one's mind through the use of psychedelics giving way to an elevated enlightenment was necessary to develop.

The journey also traveled, of course, through the rise of Santana and the sound, the distinctive sound that is Santana and his unabashed belief of his ability, and he explains, when your good people will seek you out.

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We see, in his words, "this skinny dude," essentially a raw talent, after his high school graduation determined to spend the summer playing on stage with Eric Clapton B.B. King. Without knowing anyone, having as Santana explains "no money," armed with only a harmonica, and determination.

He then met music producer Bill Graham, owner of the iconic Fillmore West in San Francisco, who was instrumental in nearly every up-and-coming artist like The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and even as it is gloss over in the documentary as a lark, and easy, Santana came prepared, with years of practice, he didn't show up empty handed, with no skills, he came ready, ready to wow and he did. Soon, he was touring.

With nearly 50 years creating music, his influence is multi-generational. We see that even before his first album was released, he played Woodstock, (which shouldn't need an explanation). And immediately following released his first album, then his life was lost in travel and touring. Years, passed by with only gigs as milestones, and then Jimmy Hendrix died which changed Santana's life.

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This set him on the path of spiritual enlightenment. No drugs, just a focused meditation. He didn't stop creating his unique sound, he just appeared to be at peace with himself, and life. We also met another producer that is credited for his success, Clive Davis.

As an entertainer, Santana understood music is freeing, and managers and producers are business. Music is money, and it may be soul-stirring, beautiful, with depth and an ability to recognize moments in time with each note, and if it doesn't sell or isn't played it doesn't work.

So, Davis allowed him to follow this journey to its end and then together they developed "Supernatural" with won nine Grammy's and tied Michal Jackson's record for most grammy's won in a single night. "Supernatural," as Santana explains, was breaking another barrier, like Woodstock, and validity. As it was received by more than the 17-27 demographic.

Santana opens his life, home, heartache, and sorrows to the audience, and during the scenes when he explains his childhood sexual assault trauma he plays "I am Free. . . No Fear at All," written by him, and the soulful notes, as he explains, in a dimly lite room, in half silhouette, we understand, in sharing these moments, he is free. It is a poignant and powerful moment in the documentary.

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CARLOS: The Santana Journey is more than the snapshot of one of the greatest guitarists in history, it is the story of many driven, from humble beginnings redefining what others say, fighting against forces that are determined to silence the light they bring. It is a trip though the psychedelic explosion of the 1960s and 1970s, defining music, sound, becoming woven in the fabric of music history.

The documentary is entertaining, the clips from those frozen moments, his histories, the milestones in career, life, family. His candor is refreshing, and he is fearless as he presents himself.

Genuine, honest, inspiring, CARLOS: The Santana Journey is a must see. Exclusively in theaters September 2023. See it.

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Country: U.S.

Language: English.

Runtime: 87minutes.

Director: Rudy Valdez.

Produced by: Imagine Documentaries' Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes along with Lizz Morhaim, Leopoldo Gout, Ashley Kahn, Sam Pollard, and Rudy Valdez.

Executive produced by: Academy Award-winning producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Sony Music Entertainment's Tom Mackay, and Richard Story, Michael Vrionis.

Co-Executive Produced by: Meredith Kaulfers for Imagine Documentaries

Cast: Carlos Santana, and friends.

Haute Tease