Fabled guitar hero and bandleader Carlos Santana was always in a class of his own. As a guitar stylist, his influence and singular technique warrants no additional elaboration within the confines of this document. His soaring heavenward, modus operandi and lashing use of sustain coupled with spine-tingling dynamics fall somewhere between John Coltrane-inspired jazz mantras and hard-rock.
While many a young or budding guitarist would be prone to mimic, few if any, have been able to conjure up a parallel sound and mode of attack. Therefore, this tribute is more about interpretation of compositional intent; spawning nouveau slants amid the guitarists’ respective insights and personalized sound.
Producer Mike Varney is a veritable pro when it comes to assembling guitar-based ventures, spanning various frameworks. Variety is the spice here. For example on "Flor D’Luna," jazz guitar virtuoso Pat Martino employs a bit of sustain as he states the yearning melody line atop a medium-tempo Latin groove. Martino also harmonizes in unison with bassist Abraham Laboriel along with his trademark fluent single note lines and tension building dynamics.
Then on "Aqua Marine," rocker Eric Johnson’s impeccable tone is enamored with a stereo-guitar effect, endearing harmonic interludes and warmly crafted volume control techniques. The old religious adage "all roads lead to the same place" comes into fruition. Take for example, famed country-rock guitarist Albert Lee’s hybrid, slick picking roots-music/contempo jazz spin on "Samba Pa Ti," followed by blues guitarist Coco Montoya’s full-throttle blitzkrieg during "Jungle Strut."
In sum, this gala rings in a celebratory vibe that proposes the antithesis of a large-scale riffing session. As the essence of Santana’s all-encompassing musicality is persuasively represented throughout.