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Keyboard City

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

Funkadelic and the Meters had a love child who was then raised by Esquivel in a space age bachelor

FROM KEYBOARD MAGAZINE: Forget that his dad is you-know-who. Salvador Santana’s genre-bending solo debut sounds more like Funkadelic and the Meters had a love child who was then raised by Esquivel in a space age bachelor pad full of analog synths. Really, though, Sal doesn’t sound like anyone else. Producers GZA and Money Mark contribute their inimitable hip-hop beats to rhythm section, which also packs plenty of classic funk and, yes, a little clave. Jump-to tracks include the opener “We Got Somethin’,” the sci-fi “Video Game, Save My Life,” the acid-jazzy hookfest “Truth Fears No Questions,” and the vocoder-sung title track. But all the tracks smoke. You’ll tap your foot. You’ll bob your head while chewing your bottom lip. You’ll drive too fast. And if you play, you’ll try to cop the countless tasty synth, Rhodes, and Clav riffs Sal peppers each track with. We may only be a month into 2010, but on December 31, 2019, Keyboard City may well be remembered as one of the standout neo-funk records of the decade.


love salvador santana. I first discovered him when I bought his "Rough Cuts: Live From Europe EP". I like "Under the Sun" and "This Day (Belongs to You)".
Rock on, SS


Born: 1983 in San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Keyboardist Salvador Santana was born in the San Francisco Bay area in 1983, the son of guitarist Carlos Santana and poet and writer Deborah Santana, a pedigree that certainly gave him a lot of creative DNA. He began playing the piano when he was only five years old, going on to study at the San Francisco School of the Arts High School, where he also took up playing the timpani. He later attended the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia and was a skilled enough musician to collaborate on...
Full Bio
Keyboard City, Salvador Santana
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