San Diego, CA — Widely acknowledged for providing the most accurate renditions of the beloved Santana catalog of music, Savor — formed in 2004 — has been delighting audiences for 15 years. Their spot-on presentations of “Black Magic Woman,” “Europa,” “Evil Ways,” “Smooth,” and many other classic hits must be heard to be believed.
Based in Southern California, the band has appeared in more than 50 cities in California, Nevada, and Arizona, performaing at summer fairs, festivals, and concert series, as well as casinos, corporate events, and even a wedding and a funeral.
The secret to their success? The painstaking attention to detail which gives them their trademark sound. Key to this approach is the philosophy shared by the two original members in the group: guitarist Michael Caroff, and keyboardist David Jefferson.
“David and I have the same outlook on playing in a tribute band,” explains Caroff. “Nothing less than an exact replication of the original will do — whether we are reproducing the original studio recording, or covering a specific live version.”
“If someone is sitting in the audience listening to us play, and they close their eyes, they should be unable to tell if they are listening to us or the Santana songs they hear on the radio or on their iPod player,” Caroff continues.
Through the last decade-and-a-half, the band has gone through a number of personnel changes. But over time, the average level of talent has steadily risen. Currently, the group boasts its strongest lineup ever.
Bass player Rick Thibodeau has been in demand on the touring circuit for decades; a consummate singer as well, Thibodeau provides the bulk of the harmonies for the band. Vocalist Steven Elowe, besides having a powerful voice, also plays hand percussion, synth guitar, and electric guitar. In fact, audiences are surprised and delighted when the show ends with a no-holds-barred lead guitar duel between Steven and Michael.
The three-pronged rhythm section is comprised of kit-drummer Billy Haabauer, Congo player Lorenzo Martinez, and Timbale/Conga player Chico Hernandez. All three are consummate percussion players, and mesh with machine-like precision.
“When people ask how we can get such an authentic sound, I say it’s because we have four people in the band that bang on things!” jokes Caroff. “But seriously, that is key. Latin percussion is beautiful in its complexity, and you need enough different people playing a variety of percussion instruments to achieve it.”
Though the tribute band has enjoyed a tremendous run so far, it was originally formed as a means to an end. Before the band was even conceived, Caroff, a longtime songwriter, had begun to write a variety of songs in the Latin vein. The band’s original purpose was to provide the musicians to record those songs.
Six years after the band’s formation, they did record a CD of Caroff’s original compositions, entitled !Moviendote! After time, however, the band grew far beyond the original intention.
Not only has Caroff entertained tens of thousands of listeners, but he now uses his status as the front man of Savor to market his company: Caroff Communications. The tagline, “Websites and SEO that Rock!” describes his company’s services.