Santana And The Isley Brothers Come Together For 'Power Of Peace'

Aug 19, 2017
Originally published on August 19, 2017 7:12 am

Power Of Peace is a new release from the great Carlos Santana in collaboration with the iconic soul band The Isley Brothers. The album also features Cindy Blackman Santana, Carlos' wife and his band's drummer.

Ronnie and Ernie Isley are the remaining members of a family band that had a string of hits from the 1950s through the '80s, with tunes like "Twist and Shout," "It's Your Thing" and "That Lady."

Santana says the songs on this collection are carefully curated for Ronnie Isley's signature voice.

"The sound, resonance, vibration of brother Ronnie is an ocean," he says. "It's a legion of angels in one note, one voice. It's not AutoTune or fixing something up."

Ronnie Isley says that for him and his brother, guitarist Ernie Isley, recording with Carlos Santana crossed from the musical into the spiritual realm.

"The Lord is leading us to do this album together," Ronnie says. "Carlos was calling the album Power Of Peace. And I was just wondering: Where will the Lord take us this time with this album? I'm still anxious to know the answer, but I know it's going to be something great."

For Ernie, trading licks in the studio with Santana was a truly special experience.

"To be in the studio with him was a joy," Ernie says. "I was watching him play, grinning while he was playing — and then he'd stop and point to me, and I'd look up and he'd be grinning too! Any other time if I had allowed myself, I probably would have stopped playing and just started laughing! [Laughs.] Because it was that much of an experience, you know?"

For Carlos Santana, what makes a song enduring is much more than a memorable melody. And he says the Isley Brothers understand that in their bones.

"Ronnie [and] Ernie: they wrote some songs, and they're not the flavor of the second," he says. "They're here for immortality, like John Lennon's 'Imagine,' or Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' In The Wind,' 'What's Going On' [by] Marvin Gaye. I can tell the songs that are destined to stay frozen in immortality, eternity and infinity, and that's the sound we wanted to create in particular with Power Of Peace. If you play this music in elevators, shopping malls, parking lots, CNN, in Europe, we will certainly elevate this planet into a place where we will see and witness world peace in our life time."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This week's music moment might sound especially welcome right about now. It's a melodic meditation on peace.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE SWEET LOVE")

THE ISLEY BROTHERS: (Singing) What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

SIMON: The album is called "Power of Peace." It's a new release from the great Carlos Santana, features a collaboration with The Isley Brothers. Ronnie and Ernie Isley are the remaining members of a family band that's made hit music from the 1950s through the '80s, songs that include "Twist And Shout," "It's Your Thing" and "That Lady." Carlos Santana says the songs on this collection are selected for Ronnie Isley's signature voice.

CARLOS SANTANA: The sound, resonance and vibration of brother Ronnie is an ocean. It's a legion of angels in one note, one voice.

SIMON: Here's that voice on the Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic, "What The World Needs Now."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE SWEET LOVE")

THE ISLEY BROTHERS: (Singing) Listen, Lord, if you want to know. What the world need now is love, sweet love.

SIMON: Ronnie Isley says that for him and his brother, Ernie Isley, recording with Carlos Santana wasn't just a musical experience.

RONNIE ISLEY: You know, the Lord is leading us to do this album together, calling the album the "Power Of Peace." And I was just wondering, where will the Lord take us this time with this album? I'm still anxious to know that answer, but I know it's going to be something great.

SIMON: Trading licks in the studio with Santana was a kind of bliss.

ERNIE ISLEY: To be in the studio with him playing was a joy. And I, you know, was watching him play, grinning while he was playing. And then he'd stop and point to me, and I'd start playing. And I'd look up and he'd grinning, too. And, you know, any other time if I had allowed myself, I probably would have stopped playing and just started laughing or crying because it was that much of an experience, you know.

SIMON: And here's some of that musical grinning on Marvin Gaye's song, "Mercy Mercy Me."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MERCY MERCY ME (THE ECOLOGY)")

THE ISLEY BROTHERS: (Singing) Oh, mercy, mercy me. Oh, things ain't what they used to be. Oh, what about the overcrowded land? How much more abuse from her man can she stand? Oh, yeah. Oh, no.

SIMON: Carlos Santana says that what makes a song endure is more than a memorable melody and says The Isley Brothers understand that, too.

CARLOS SANTANA: Ronnie Isley, Ernie, they wrote some songs that they're not the flavor of the second. They're here for immortality, like John Lennon "Imagine" or Bob Dylan "Blowing In The Wind," "What's Going On" Marvin Gaye. I can tell you the songs that are here to stay, frozen in immortality, eternity and infinity. And that's the sound that we wanted to create in this particular "Power Of Peace." If you play this music in elevators, shopping malls, parking lots, CNN, in Europe or anywhere in the world, we will certainly elevate this planet into a place where we will see and witness world peace in our lifetime.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH")

CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA: (Singing) Let there be peace on earth.

SIMON: The album is called "Power Of Peace," Carlos Santana and The Isley Brothers. It also features Cindy Blackman Santana, the band's drummer and Carlos Santana's wife.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH")

CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA: (Singing) With God as our father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.