Santana – Borboletta

Top players include Stanley Clarke, Airto, Flora Purim and Michael Shrieve. 

This is definitely not an album of “hits”, nor is it trying to be one. The lengthy review in Rolling Stone explains it all, and is certainly worth a read if jazz-rock fusion is your thing.

Rolling Stone Rave Review Excerpts (1978)

As Carlos Santana evolves musically and spiritually — for the time being the two paths seem to be one — he chooses his associates more carefully. The demands of the music he conceives are dictating his personnel and the Santana band has become, for recording purposes, an aegis under which various players perform.

The entirely instrumental Illuminations is Carlos’s most ambitious project to date. And it is very much his: Alice Coltrane provided string arrangements and plays harp and keyboards but with the exception of her brief “Bliss: The Eternal Now” all the compositions are by Santana and Coster. Some of them tend toward the soporific with long atempo string passages and slow, blissed-out guitar melodies, but the sidemen and Turiya’s resourcefulness as an arranger inject enough fire to avoid tedium. The absence of a drum kit on most selections is compensated for by bassist Holland, who pushes and cajoles, emerging as the strong — man of the album.

For diehards, Santana’s Greatest Hits reprises obvious favorites from the first three Santana albums, “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman” and all. This widely imitated music is magnificent rock, great for dancing or daydreaming, but as an instrumentalist and an organizer of musicians and material Carlos has surpassed it. Even when he’s unsure, as he is in parts of Borboletta and Illuminations, his determination to replace effects with substance and one-note riffing with meatier improvisations is refreshing. And “Angel of Sunlight,” “Here and Now,” “Flor de Canela” and “Promise of a Fisherman” are his best efforts thus far.


Side One

Spring Manifestations (Sound Effects)
Canto De Los Flores
Life Is Anew
Give And Take
One With The Sun

Side Two

Practice What You Preach
Here And Now
Flor De Canela
Promise Of A Fisherman


Borboletta is the sixth studio album by Santana. It is one of his jazz-funk-fusion oriented albums, along with Caravanserai (1972), Welcome (1973), Love Devotion Surrender (1973) with John McLaughlin and Illuminations (1974) with Alice Coltrane, Jack DeJohnette and Jules Broussard.

The guitarist leaves a lot of room to percussion, saxophone and keyboards to set moods (“Spring Manifestations”), as well as lengthy solos by himself (“Promise of a Fisherman”) and vocals (“Give and Take”, a funky guitar-led song). The record was released in a shiny blue sleeve displaying a butterfly, an allusion to the album Butterfly Dreams (1973) by Brazilian musician Flora Purim and her husband Airto Moreira, whose contributions deeply influenced the sound of Borboletta. In Portuguese, borboleta means “butterfly”.