Personnel includes: Willie Bobo (vocals, percussion); Don Sebesky (arranger, conductor); Bobby Brown, Kenny Rogers (alto & tenor saxophones); Jimmy Owens (trumpet, flugelhorn); Melvin Lastie (cornet); Felix Wilkins (flute); Phil Bodner (alto flute, English horn, clarinet); Stan Webb (alto flute); Bert DeCoteaux, Bert Keyes (strings); Sonny Henry (guitar); Chuck Rainey, Richard Davis, Jim Phillips (bass); Jack Jennings, Jose Mangual, Osvaldo Martinez, Victor Pantoja, John Rodriguez (percussion); Freddie Waits (drums).
Producers: Esmond Edwards, Teddy Reig, Pete Spargo, Creed Taylor.
Compilation producer: Ken Druker.
Recorded between 1965 & 1968. Includes liner notes by Carlo Wolff.
Personnel: Willie Bobo (vocals, percussion); Sonny Henry (guitar); Harry Glickman, Lewis Eley, Tosha Samaroff, Sylvan Shulman, Charles Libove, Raoul Poliakin, Max Pollikoff (violin); Seymour Barab, Alan Shulman (cello); Felix Wilkins (flute); Phil Bodner (alto flute, clarinet, English horn); Stan Webb (alto flute); Kenny Rogers , Bobby Brown (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Jimmy Owens (trumpet, flugelhorn); Melvin Lastie (cornet); Frederick Waits (drums); Victor Pantoja (congas, percussion); Carlos "Patato" Valdes (congas); Osvaldo Martinez, John "Dandy" Rodriguez (bongos, cowbells); Jack Jennings (timpani); Jose Mangual (percussion).
Liner Note Author: Carlo Wolff.
Photographer: Chuck Stewart.
Arrangers: Don Sebesky; Bert de Coteaux; Melvin Lastie; Bert Keyes.
There are compilations and there are compilations. Verve's Finest Hour series has, generally speaking, been consistent in producing collections with artists' best performances from the label -- with the possible exception of the Ramsey Lewis volume, which sucks. This set by Nuyorican percussion and arranging ace Willie Bobo is arguably the best collection of his work on the market. Virtually everything a fan would want on a single disc is here and, even more crucial, this is flawless as an introduction to Bobo's amazing contribution to Latin, popular, and jazz musics. Obvious cuts like "Grazing in the Grass" and "Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries" are here in their steamy glory, as are his incomparable versions of "Knock on Wood" and "Walk Away Renee." Bobo's "It's Not Unusual" is a complete reinvention of the Mills/Reed classic commonly associated with Tom Jones. What comes across so forcefully on the Bobo collection is that his ideas about music were progressive to the point of being oversimplified by others; Bobo saw all music as pop music and treated it as such on his records. His wish to make corner-bending sides for his friends in Harlem actually translates to the entire American populace very well, so well in their directness and emotional honesty -- as well sweet-grooving simplicity -- that sophisticated statements on race and class are played out in his pop music. For those who don't give a damn about this kind of analysis, it's safe to say that this set -- all 18 tracks of it -- constitutes one hell of a driving, partying, dancing, or goofing record straight from the heart to the street corner. This is amazing stuff. ~ Thom Jurek