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  Elvin Jones died - who cares

Greg Vail

Carlos Santana on the passing of Elvin Jones.

Carlos Santana on the American lack of depth and the Pop Music Industry.

Subj: Santana on the death of Elvin Jones
Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2004 9:29:01 PM

By George Varga

The SAN DIEGO Union-Tribune

May 30, 2004

A hippie at heart, Carlos Santana has long championed music as a potent force
for creating positive vibrations that as this veteran of the 1969 Woodstock
festival puts it "can change your molecular structure."

But the legendary rocker sounded uncharacteristically angry during a
discussion about the recent death of one of his musical heroes, jazz drum icon Elvin
Jones, who died May 18 of heart failure.

Santana, who will be honored in Los Angeles as the 2004 Latin Recording
Academy Person of the Year on Aug. 30, is incensed that Jones' death elicited scant
media coverage. He expressed his frustration during a recent interview from
his San Rafael office.

"I'm really embarrassed for this nation, and for MTV and VH1 and Rolling
Stone, because it was a very racist thing not to acknowledge this most important
musician when he passed," said Santana, whose 1999 album, "Supernatural," won
nine Grammys and has sold more than 25 million copies.

"For them to (play up) Ozzy Osbourne and other corny-ass white people, but
not Elvin, is demeaning and I'm really embarrassed to live in this country."

The mustachioed guitarist and bandleader first heard Jones in 1965 on the
John Coltrane Quartet's epic album "A Love Supreme," about a year after the
teenaged Santana moved to San Francisco from Tijuana and became an American
citizen. He was immediately struck by the force of the quartet's music and the impact
of Jones' polyrhythmic drumming.

"When that intro comes in on 'A Love Supreme' it's like the gates of heaven
opening," Santana, 56, said. "In fact, when I die, if I don't hear 'A Love
Supreme,' I'll turn back; I'll know I'm in the wrong place. For me, Elvin was
N**mero Uno, forever, for all ages, for all existence. I miss him terribly; I've
been playing his music nonstop since he died, especially 'Agenda' (from Jones'
1969 'Poly-Currents') with Joe Farrell (on sax). He was a supreme drummer who
was doing things that were totally different than anyone else.

"When I hear Elvin's music I hear the pyramids, I hear African and
pre-Columbian music, and I hear the future. Elvin is the beat of life itself, and his
music transcends 'clever' or 'cute' or any superlatives. When he and Coltrane
played, and everyone else in the quartet dropped out, that's what Jimi Hendrix
would play if he was still alive. That's what John McLaughlin wants to play,
and he's alive, because there is nothing more pure or vibrant than Coltrane and

It is because he holds Jones in such high esteem that Santana was angry at
the absence of media tributes to the masterful drummer, who was 76 when he died
and kept performing until just weeks before his death.

The reason for the slight, Santana believes, is a matter of racial and
cultural prejudice.

"When Miles (Davis) died (in 1991), for four hours in France they stopped
everything on TV and radio all the regular programming and just showed Miles
for four hours, all through France," Santana recalled. "Here in the U.S.,
it's embarrassing (how jazz is treated). People should be ashamed of themselves."

MTV and VH1 are virtually jazz-free, and the music has historically been held
in much higher esteem abroad than here, in its homeland.

But Santana believes exceptions should be made for musicians as notable as
Jones, who Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron hailed as "a major force to be
reckoned with" who could "wow the pants off a jazz fan or non-jazz fan" alike.

"If I would've been running MTV, I would've stopped all the corny stuff they
show and shown one of Elvin's (drum) solos. Because he represents the highest
level of creativity, like Duke Ellington," Santana said.

"America is such an ignorant country. I understand that I'm hard on America,
but if you look at all the (alarming) things on CNN, (you'll see) we need to
grow up quickly. We need to crystallize our existence because we place economic
values over spiritual ones.

"I'm hurt. And if I was a little hard or cruel with MTV and VH1, they deserve
it. They need to stop showing what they are showing, and show real musicians.
Why do they keep showing such stupidity? MTV needs to reassess its

George Varga

This article killed me. It is my understanding that the following interview is real. It is posted due to the depth and passion for Music that Mr. Santana shares with so many other Musicians in this country that work in an industry that shows so little respect for tallent or musicianship. Thanks to Mr. Santana for saying, so powerfully, what so many of us think everyday!

Greg Vail

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