Saturday, December 29, 2007

Willie Bobo - Lost and Found

Willie Bobo
Lost and Found
(Concord Picante)

Every once and a while the impossible seems to come true. All the better when the impossible appears suddenly in the form of “lost” tapes by a deceased musical hero! Eric Bobo, multitalented percussionist son of Willie Bobo, discovered a stack of master reel tapes in his mother’s closet one day ten years ago, and has been on a quest to have these recordings see the light of day ever since. Overcoming his mother’s reluctance to let him “mess with” his dad’s things, Eric (with the help of Mario Caldato Jr.) lovingly transferred these recordings to digital over a period of years. Now Concord Picante, bless them, have released Lost and Found, allowing us to enjoy the fruits of labor of father and son. Eric states that his “first listening was very emotional for [him] because [he] was listening to [his] father in a whole different way” and I assure you that Willie Bobo fans will feel emotional too upon discovering these lost works. Thankfully Eric and Mario knew a good thing when they heard it, and didn’t mess with the masters, so there are no overdubs or updating attempts, just pure sublime music that “bridges the gap’ between genres. The tunes were recorded between the years 1970 to 1976, and they have a fresh, stripped down, unadorned sound. Flavors of funk, jazz, and Latin blend effortlessly, showing Bobo in his purest form where he was in full control of his musical direction. Stand out tracks are “Ci Ci,” which features some really great percussive vocalizing, and “Pretty Lady,” which starts off as a slinky California style funk jam but gets steadily more Latinized until it climaxes with hot blasts of brass, a classic Spanish coro, and Bobo’s tasty timbale solo. “A Koko” and “Fairy Tales For Two” form bookends for an imaginary soundtrack to a Lowriders’ convention in Heaven. The versions of “Broasted Or Fried” and “Dindi” are superior to any Bobo ever put to wax, the latter swingin’ hard enough for dance floor djs and hip-hop beat-heads to get off on, the former languidly romantic yet somehow genuine in it’s late night majesty, giving Sinatra or Bennett a run for the money. A nice touch is the panel in the CD booklet with all the family photos. My only quibble is the lack of personnel credits for the backing musicians. Overall, a great addition to the Bobo cannon!

©2006 Pablo Yglesias