There are two sides of Carlos Santana which the record buying public has long become familiar with -- the groundbreaking Latin/jazz fusion guitarist of the '60s and '70s, and the mainstream pop/rocker of the early 21st century. Thankfully, the tracks covered on the 2006 Santana tribute, Viva Carlos!, focus entirely on the former era. With a backing band comprised of drummer Dave Weckl, bassist Abe Laboriel, keyboardist Peter Wolf, and percussionist Luis Conte, some of the most renowned names of jazz fusion guitar are included (Robben Ford, Frank Gambale, Pat Martino, Mike Stern), as well as rockers (Eric Gales, Eric Johnson, Vinnie Moore), and even a country picker (Albert Lee). Most tribute albums tend to be mixed bags, but Viva Carlos! proves to be one of the more consistent ones out there, since the performances tend to be quite similar throughout, like Mike Stern's "Oye Como Va" and Coco Montoya's "Jungle Strut." As one of the more criminally underrated/overlooked guitarists, any Santana tribute is a welcome one.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato