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The reunion of the original Santana lineup is on. Vintage Vinyl News reported that plans are underway for a new album to be released sometime next year featuring Carlos Santana, guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist Gregg Rolie, percussionist Mike Carabello, and drummer Michael Shrieve. Founding bassist David Brown died in 2000 and longtime percussionist Jose "Chepito" Areas, who performed with the band through 1980, has yet to be confirmed for the reunion album.

Santana talked about the project, saying, "As well as Neal we have the two Mikes, Mike Carabello and Michael Shrieve. I am pretty sure Gregg (Rolie)'s going to do it. So that is pretty much everyone. . . It will be like Santana IV because we stopped at Santana III. . . We have been checking out a lot of African music, African patterns. Each artist has his own thing that he listens to. Led Zeppelin listened to Otis Rush. Cream listened to Freddie King and Albert King. We all had someone that we listened to. It was a beautiful common ground for Santana to play African music".

Neal Schon joined the original lineup in 1971 at age 17 in time for that year's Santana III, after which Carabello and Brown quit. After 1972's Caravanserai, Schon and Rolie left to form Journey. The new, unnamed album will mark the first time the core members have recorded together in 43 years.

In recent years, Carlos Santana told us he and Gregg Rolie were growing closer again and heading towards some type of reunion: "I'm really happy to say that Gregg Rolie and I are communicating more. And it feels great. I have no doubts that, Lord willing, in the future we'll be doing something together, definitely."

Drummer Michael Shrieve, who performed with Neal Schon in the '80s as part of HSAS with Sammy Hagar and Kenny Aaronson, told us not that long ago that he was totally open for a reunion with Carlos Santana: "Y'know, I'll always leave that door open, if it seems right. If there's an appropriate time for that -- y'know, we speak all the time, so if that happens, that'd be great, and I would make time for it."

When pressed about the kimono outfits and afro hair he sported back in his Santana and early-Journey days, Neal Schon took it all in stride but promised that his old look wasn't going to make a comeback anytime soon: "That was so funny, man. After Behind The Music came out, and they had all that old footage with the big 'fro, y'know? My telephone was ringing off the hook -- people calling up and say, 'Dude, what happened to the 'fro, man? You gotta grow that thing back!' I said, 'I don't think so.' I think I'll just get a wig, man (laughs)"

There's been no announcement as to who will handle bass duties, and whether the classic lineup plans on playing dates behind the new album.

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