The Dubai Jazz Festival finished another successful edition on Friday with a smooth performance by Carlos Santana.
The guitar king wowed the crowds at Dubai Festival City Park with a set list appealing to guitar heads and the casual fan.
The 66-year-old acted as band leader and the near-dozen-strong backing group followed his lead, with each piece used as a platform for Santana to explore a style of his choosing.
In Toussaint L’Overture, he undercut the ebullient Latin percussions with fluid blues solos, while Oye Como Va elicited a mass singalong from the crowd.
It also proved why Santana’s rendition of the Mexican classic by Tito Puente became successful: when Santana-ised, the folk ditty is transformed into an expansive rocker; the “in-thing” during the 1970s era.
Maria Maria also went down a treat with the audience, however, the song’s niggling novelty value was enhanced by a duo of backing vocalist taking turns to sing verses, boy-band style.
Black Magic Woman sounded pleasingly vintage; Santana’s guitar burrowed through the haze of organs with a series of solos moving from blues to reggae, before ending in a percussive storm.
Thursday night saw the talented British jazzman Jamie Cullum take to the stage in Dubai with a dizzying performance that gave new meaning to the term “pianist”.
When the 34-year-old wasn’t tinkling the ivories of the grand piano, he was busy bashing it as piece of percussion.
The set leaned heavily on his latest album Momentum. The Same Things opened the set, with Cullum’s ultra-smooth vocals soaring over a pounding Motown backbeat.
I’m All Over It was a bright example of what happens when Cullum ditches the jazz acrobatics for a straight out pop-approach; its falsetto chorus remains one of his prettiest melodies.
No Cullum performance would have been complete without the inclusion of a few covers.
The Beatles’ Blackbird was lovingly rendered, while Cole Porter’s Love for Sale became a spaced-out jam courtesy of a heavy hip-hop beat nicked off Roots Manuva’s Witness (1 Hope).