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When Salvador Santana issued his debut album in 2008 as SSB -- an acronym for Salvador Santana Band -- it was an eclectic if not particularly memorable recording. On Keyboard City, Santana hooked up with Money Mark to co-write and co-produce the album. There are other musical collaborators, but this is truly a solo album. The tunes are tighter, yet more complex than on his debut. Check "Video Game, Save My Life," where slippery hip-hop beats, icy keyboards, Money Mark's guitar, and sine wave generators rub up against rubbery basslines, drums (Santana's own), and Alfredo Ortiz's percussion to create a nocturnal, futurist vibe whose groove won't quit. On "Under the Sun," Ortiz and backing vocalist Dawn Bishop help him create a multi-layered, synth driven Latin-flavored pop tune with an airy, funky, Afro-Cuban vibe. It has backbone-slipping beats and a killer synthetic horn chart that sounds utterly natural. On the shimmering club jazz of the title track, Santana mans a vocoder and plays everything except hand percussion. It's a stone killer. The spoken word and gospel groove on "This Day (Belongs to You)" could have been recorded by Build an Ark. Money Mark mans the bass; Joel Harper plays lap steel; and Ortiz adorns it tastefully with his righteous percussion skills. But it's the backing vocals and ad libs -- courtesy of Bishop and Sherry Pruitt over Santana's drums and keyboards -- that make it transcendent. A trace of Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" is felt on tracks like "Truth Fears No Questions," though exotic instruments such as kalimba, didgeridoo, and clarinet are employed giving it a more organic feel, stretching it past that influence. The straight-up funk-fused-with-hip-hop on "Salaboutthemoney" is dancefloor ready. Keyboard City is a vast improvement over its predecessor; it's still wildly adventurous, but Santana is grounded in his approach to experimentation and more focused on groove consciousness even as musical and sonic ideas assert themselves freely in the mix.
Performance CreditsSalvador Santana Primary Artist,Organ,Bass,Piano,Drums,Keyboards,Vocals,Clavinet,Vocoder,Wurlitzer
Eric Bobo Kalimba
Quincy McCrary Vocals
Money Mark Bass,Guitar,Drums,Keyboards,Vocals
DJ Ralph M. scratching
Ulises Bella Clarinet,Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone
Sheffer Bruton Trombone
Sherry Pruitt Vocals
Alfredo Ortiz Percussion,Conga,Drums
Mike Bolger Trumpet,French Horn
Dawn Bishop Background Vocals
Joel Harper Didjeridu
Technical CreditsMoney Mark Composer,Producer
Robert Carranza Engineer
Damon Locks Artwork,Concept
Nick Pavey Engineer
Salvador Santana Composer,Producer