Rolling Stone (12/7/72, p.62) - "...Carlos need never play another note to rank as one of the most satisfying beautiful players of his instrument... charming and moving melodic lines as the music swells and climaxes to swell again..."
Q (5/00, p.131) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...The playing was immediately looser....A beautifully fluid piece of work, this was as far as most fans were prepared to go, never to return..."
Santana: Carlos Santana (vocals, guitar, percussion); James Mingo Lewis (vocals, piano, bongos, congas, percussion); Rico Reyes (vocals); Doug Rauch (guitar, bass); Douglas Rodrigues, Neal Schon (guitar); Hadley Caliman (saxophone); Gregg Rolie (piano, organ); Wendy Haas, Tom Coster (piano); Tom Rutley (acoustic bass); Mike Shrieve (drums); Jose "Chepito" Areas (bongos, timbales); Armando Peraza (bongos, percussion); Lenny White (castanets).
Recorded in 1972. Originally released on Columbia (31610). Includes liner notes by Hal Miller.
Recording information: 02/21/1972-05/05/1972.
Though there were hints of jazz fusion on Santana's first three albums, 1972's CARAVANSERAI introduced a dramatic shift in the band's sound, away from essentially pop-based music to a freer, more harmonically complex jazz/rock hybrid. In addition, the record marked a splintering of the original Santana lineup (soon to splinter further still with the departure of organist Gregg Rolie and guitarist Neal Schon, who then formed Journey).
Seemingly unconcerned with the pursuit of hit singles, guitarist Carlos Santana and crew here turn in an exquisitely moody disc of mostly instrumental jamming with a brooding intensity akin to Miles Davis's classic BITCHES BREW, underscored by the San Francisco-based ensemble's trademark propulsive rhythms. The new approach reaches its apex on the fiery, Chick Corea-like "La Fuente Del Ritmo," which features future key Santana musicians Armando Pereza (percussion) and Tom Coster (piano). Also of note is bassist Doug Raunch, who replaces David Brown's meat-and-potatoes R&B playing with a more technically accomplished style that edges the group closer to Tower of Power territory. A dark and perhaps intentionally non-radio-friendly album that likely shocked many fans upon its release, CARAVANSERAI is an underrated, but important and fascinating, chapter in Santana's history.