Santana is back in the studio, only this time, he's joined by his original bandmates from the '70s! -- April 15, 2016 marks the release date of Santana IV, the wildly anticipated studio album that reunites the revered early ‘70s lineup of guitar icon Carlos Santana (guitar, vocals), Gregg Rolie (keyboards, lead vocals), Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Carabello (percussion) and Michael Shrieve (drums). The album signifies the first time in 45 years – since 1971’s multi-platinum classic Santana III – that the quintet has recorded together. Santana IV features all-new material – 16 tracks in all, written and produced by the band – that bursts with the same unparalleled energy and superlative musicianship that made Santana a pioneering force in world music and a household name across the globe. Joining the core Santana IV band in the studio are current Santana members Karl Perazzo (percussion) and Benny Rietveld (bass), with the legendary vocalist Ronald Isley guesting on two cuts. “There are very few bands from the ‘60s and ‘70s that can come back with this kind of energy,” Santana raves, “so I think we achieved something very rare. This music was screaming to come out of us. It wasn’t about nostalgia. It was about passion.” Carlos Santana credits Schon as the catalyst and driving force behind the project. The Journey guitarist and co-founder had suggested to Santana that the two record an album together, to which Santana went one better and proposed recruiting Rolie, Shrieve and Carabello for what would be called Santana IV. “I thought it would be so cool to reconnect with everybody and be back where I started,” says Schon. “Santana III was the first record I ever did, so with Santana IV, it’s all come full circle. The whole thing developed into something so special, and I’m thrilled about that.” Initial writing sessions and rehearsals for Santana IV took place in 2013, and from the very first note, it was clear to everybody that the fiery group chemistry from the early ‘70s was fully intact. “It was just like riding a bike,” says Rolie. “I think as soon as Carlos came up with the name, Santana IV, we were off, writing music that was positive and sensual – sounding just like us.” Santana brought in ideas for jams that the band members fleshed out, with Rolie contributing more fully composed songs. The group recorded throughout 2014 and 2015 during breaks in Santana and Journey touring cycles, amassing 16 spellbinding tracks that combined all their signature elements – Afro-Latin rhythms, soaring vocals, electrifying blues-psychedelic guitar solos, and irrepressibly jubilant percussion work – with widescreen hooks and melodies that will lodge themselves in the thicket of listeners’ senses and stay there. The album announces itself forcefully with “Yambu,” a righteously gritty and soulful stomper that comes complete with swirling B3 organ hooks and walloping guitar crunch. “It reminds me of Ennio Morricone,” remarks Santana, “but there’s also Booker T & the MGs and some serious African music. And it all cooks, man – it’s definitely Santana. It could be our ‘Good, Bad & the Ugly’ soundtrack.” The first single, “Anywhere You Want to Go,” is destined to storm its way into the pantheon of Santana classics. Written and sung by Gregg Rolie, it’s a sexy, body-shaking winner and an unmistakable tip of the hat to the inescapable cha-cha/Latin jazz charms of “Oye Como Va.” “I wrote ‘Anywhere You Want to Go’ on a plane,” Rolie admits. “It was always with Santana in mind. I played it for the guys, and they loved it. It’s great for singing, great for soloing – it’s perfect for this band.” Of the two stand-out tracks featuring Ronald Isley – the feverishly impassioned Latin-rock workout “Love Makes the World Go Round” and the hard-edged and funky “Freedom in Your Mind” – Santana says, “They just make me feel so good. My respect and admiration for Ronald is so high. He’s the male Aretha Franklin of today. When you hear his voice, it’s like witnessing Niagra and the Pyramids.” Guitar fans expecting six-string titans Santana and Schon to mix it up like two gnashing polecats will hear all their fantasies made manifest all over Santana IV. There’s “All Aboard,” a no-holds-barred rude guitar jam of the highest order, along with the slinky, soulful metal cruncher “Caminando,” which explodes with tectonic axe force. Santana and Schon take their riff and solo work to a new level on the unabashedly British blues-tinged “Shake It,” going toe to toe on not one but two mind-bending solo runs. “We’re total blues on that song,” Santana remarks. “Neal took the guitar into the stratosphere on that second guitar solo. I cherish him and I just marvel over the way he plays. He gets the MVP award from me!” “Carlos and I feel more connected than ever,” adds Schon. “We get super-aggressive when we play, but also melodic and poetic. We have a dialog with each other on our guitars, and that allows us to do one-take solos and just blow each other away.” Recurring themes of love and tolerance are common threads throughout Santana IV. Such motifs come together majestically on the epic tone poem album closer “Forgiveness,” a languid and breathtakingly gorgeous atmospheric groover. “Those topics are the most important things to me in my music,” Santana states. “Helping the world be a better place to live and helping humans to heal – I don’t apologize for that.” Music fans familiar with Lee Conklin’s cherished artwork for Santana’s 1969 debut album – who can forget that roaring lion? – will instantly greet Heather Griffin-Vines graphic for Santana IV as a gloriously realized update of that iconic image. “The idea for the new cover was totally by design,” Santana says. “Heather compiled it on her computer from her imagination, and it’s just remarkable. I really think the music goes along with the cover, and vice versa. It all fits together beautifully.” Picking up a musical dialog 45 years later and extending it into a new millennium is a tall, almost impossible, order for any group of players, but on Santana IV each band member reaches a new level of virtuosity and communal intuition on a collection of songs that easily stands side-by-side with the group’s treasured early work. “When you can go back and break new ground with joy and determination – and OK, some whoop-ass energy – it gets you going,” says Santana. “We were able to rekindle a fire and mixed it with pure joy on this album. I’m so grateful that we all shared the same quest and that we took this journey to the ultimate destination.” Santana IV is now available on iTunes! Read the USA Today Album Review Here! The album will be released in CD, Double 180 Gram Vinyl with Download Card and Digital configurations. -- Check out a single off of the new album below!