A Santana spin-off, Azteca put out a couple of albums between 1972 and 1973. The band featured the Escovedo brothers Pete and Coke.
Written by: Eric
ALBUM: Pyramid Of The Moon
SERIAL: KC 32451
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Errol Knowles, Wendy Haas – vocals * Pete Escovedo – vocals, percussion * Coke Escovedo – timbales * Paul Jackson – bass * Bob Ferreira – sax, flute, piccolo * Pat O’Hara – trombone * Tom Harrell – trumpet, flugelhorn * Mel Martin – sax * Bill Courtial – guitar * George Muribus – fender rhodes * Flip Nunez – organ * George DiQuattro – piano, clavinet * Victor Pantajo – congas * John Brinck – drums
Additional Musicians: Leon White – drums * Rico Reyes – vocals * Tom Rutley, Tony Juncale – bass * Mike Nocke – ARP synthesizer, fender rhodes * Neal Schon – guitar
TRACK LISTING: 01 Someday We’ll Get By * 02 Mazatlan * 03 Find Love Today * 04 Whatcha Gonna Do * 05 New Day Is On The Rise * 06 Mexicana, Mexicana * 07 Red Onions * 08 Love Is A Stranger * 09 A Night In Nazca
A Santana spin-off, Azteca put out a couple of albums between 1972 and 1973. Formed by Pete and the late Coke Escovedo following their departure from Carlos and company, the brothers created a colourful and rather large-ish band of 15 or more musicians which had to be unwieldly from a studio and managerial standpoint.
But they pulled it off and although the first self-titled Azteca album contained no hits to speak of, the band toured the U.S. extensively with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Tito Puente, Freddie King and The Temptations.
Their second long player ‘Pyramid Of The Moon’ is my favourite from their brief output and what a delightful album it is. That’s right; this is music to put a smile on your face, made for warm summer days and patio lit nights with the one you love.
No, nothing here is original; Santana naturally plays a big role in the Azteca sound but so do Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tower Of Power and the sunshine pop of The 5th Dimension.
The upbeat ‘Someday We’ll Get By’ sets the carnival-esque atmosphere while the sparkling ‘Find Love Today’ with clear as a bell vocals from Wendy Haas counterpointed with the soulful Errol Knowles is a treasure.
Imagine Lou Rawls fronting ‘The Magic Garden’ era 5th Dimension and you’ll be right on the money, but of course the album’s peak for most Glory Daze readers will be ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’ which features off and on member Neal Schon.
There’s no disappointment with his typical, fret-burning solo and it’s been rumored Steve Perry first met Schon at a San Francisco Azteca gig long before they connected with then still to be formed Journey.
‘Red Onions’ has all the earmarks of ‘Chicano rock’, catchy, foot tapping and so much fun! The Chicago styled ‘Love Is A Stranger’ could have made for a nice single if CBS had put some weight behind the band and although the jazz inflected ‘A Night In Nazca’ is moodier than the earlier cuts, it’s a low-key close to a warm and engaging album.
Reissued on CD with the single version of ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’ attached as a bonus, the original LP track is more effective but it’s still interesting to hear.
Azteca partially reformed in 2007 and there is an accompanying CD and DVD for hard core fans and includes Pete Escovedo’s daughter Shelia E on percussion which really isn’t anything new since she played live with Azteca going back to the mid-70s as a teenager but there is no Neal Schon which was a letdown for many. Stick with the studio albums, you won’t regret owning either.