The legend says he is open to working with Indian artistes

The ideal way to prepare for a press conference with a musical great would be to sit down and listen to his work.

Hours before he addressed the Bangalore media on the eve of his concert, legendary rock guitarist Carlos Santana reintroduced me to his musical genius — not the combo/feat version that we’ve been listening to over the past decade, but the raw guitar-driven instrumentals culled from his newest release, Shape Shifter.

So is Friday’s concert, where he headlines the Rock ’N India music fest, going to be all about these instrumental sets?

Asked what kind of set list to expect, Santana comes back with: “Yesterday, today and tomorrow”.

So fans can expect a lot of the combo cha-cha numbers — his superlative collaborations with Rob Thomas, Wyclef Jean and Eric Clapton in Supernatural that pulled him out of a short lull back in the late 1990s — and some of his older classic tracks like his debut number, Evil Ways and the 1970s hit, Black Magic Woman.

Given his long list of collaborations, is he looking to collaborate with Indian artistes? “Surely,” replied the 65-year-old legend. “My heart is open. Someone told me that when you love what you do, you don’t work for a day. And I love what I do. I am open to working with different styles and different types of music, and would really like to learn widely.”

Though he didn’t respond directly to the query on collaborations with Bollywood, he was “inspired by” and “truly loved” the spirituality in Indian music.

His favourites

He mentioned his love, particularly for the works of sarod legend Ali Akbar Khan, tabla great Alla Rakha and his son Zakir Hussain, and legendary sitar artiste Ravi Shankar.

These artistes, he said, showed not only The Beatles but also American musicians of the 1970s that there was a way to express that which is spiritual.

He hoped the audience, besides having a good time at the concert, will also see the purpose to his music.

Santana is performing at the Bhartiya City on Thanisandra Road. The gates open at 3 p.m.