Today’s post is about two different musical notables – Joaquin Rodrigo and Carlos Santana – and one notable composition – “Concierto de Aranjuez.”
This classic guitar (and orchestra) composition by Rodrigo has been recorded in whole or in part by many guitarists and other musicians and was interpreted by Santana as “En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor” for the 1994 Santana Brothers album.
Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” is considered one of the pinnacles of the guitar concerto repertoire. It was composed in 1939 and many stories circulated about the inspiration for it, including the tragedy of Guernica – also memorialized by Pablo Picasso. Rodrigo and his wife eventually revealed that the Concierto had been written as a response to her miscarriage of their first baby.
It’s not hard to hear this in the movement from joy to melancholy in the music.
Although he was born in Mexico, Santana is recognized as one of America’s finest guitarists who made his name pioneering a rock/Latin American jazz sound. Like several other rock musicians who came up in the 60s and 70s, Santana was influenced by earlier blues artists like B.B. King, T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker.
He earned his early chops playing with local bands on the “Tijuana Strip” (where there’s always some fine music) and eventually made his way to San Francisco in the 1960s after his family moved there.
On his 1960 Sketches of Spain album which featured the second movement of the Concierto, Miles Davis says, “That melody is so strong that the softer you play it the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets.”
Jazz guitarist Jim Hall was influenced by Davis’s rendition and performed his own version of the Concierto on his 1975 album titled Concierto. The Modern Jazz Quartet also paid tribute to Rodrigo on several recordings.
As I continue my summer project to expand my personal definition of jazz – and maybe yours – here’s the talented Carlos Santana with “En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor” against a background of the beautiful deep blue sea. Haunting, relaxing, romantic…