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Willie Bobo's Finest Hour

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

Get in touch with your inner cowbell

I heard a few Willie Bobo tunes on compilations and loved each song I heard--after reading reviews, I knew this album was the one to introduce me to his Harlem Latin vibe. Every song is fun, swinging, and immediately loveable. A great party album as well as for kicking back on a Saturday afternoon. Highly recommended!

boogie chillun'

Pues, what can I say about Willie Bobo, except that he gets my feet moving. Who else (but Sergio Mendes) turned pop songs into funky grooves (Is Sergio Mendes funky? No se). And he don't have the soothing female vocals of Sergio Mendes that some people might find a bit too surgary. Any Willie Bobo is worthwhile, and this collection is especially so as it contains great selections from numerous recording. Is this boogaloo or shing-a-ling? I'm not sure, but, man! I'm going looking for some Willie Colon recordings next.

All Good

Willie Bobo anytime!


Born: February 28, 1934 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Willie Bobo was one of the great Latin percussionists of his time, a relentless swinger on the congas and timbales, a flamboyant showman onstage, and an engaging if modestly endowed singer. He also made serious inroads into the pop, R&B and straight jazz worlds, and he always said that his favorite song was Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi." Growing up in Spanish Harlem, Bobo began on the bongos at age 14, only to find himself performing with Perez Prado a year later, studying with Mongo Santamaria...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Willie Bobo

Willie Bobo's Finest Hour, Willie Bobo
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  • $8.99
  • Genres: Latin Jazz, Music, Latino, Jazz
  • Released: Jan 01, 2003

Customer Ratings

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