Carlos Santana and Jamie Cullum delight at Dubai Jazz Festival

The Dubai Jazz Festival finished another successful edition on Friday with a smooth performance by Carlos Santana.

Carlos Santana was on form at the Dubai Jazz Festival. Courtesy Keith Nunes
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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).

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