Saturday, February 3, 2007

Willie Bobo- Lost and Found (Concord- Piquante)

This came out in the fall of 2006. The tapes were from a stash discovered at Willie Bobo's widow's place, by their son Eric who struggled against his mother's misgivings to push these tapes through to the light of day.
Willie Bobo was a well known percussionist who blended soul with his Latin boogaloo, creating some very funky albums for Verve and other labels through the years. Everything on Lost and Found was recorded between 1970 and 1976. In 1996, his percussionist son Eric found the tapes in a closet, and spent a decade digitizing the tapes and preparing them for release. There are happily no over dubs on here, although session credits for the other players would have been most welcome. On the other hand, this information might not have been available to Eric, either. Consequently, for instance, one can only guess who is the "Steve" on trumpet on the last song (named by Willie during the song itself), or whom else was playing with Willie on these recordings. The cover features a tape box, and there are family pictures in the package, suggesting the omission of session credits was not due to laziness. The disc runs for almost an hour, and there is no filler on here.
Many of the tracks are instrumentals, but there are some songs featuring soulful singing in English, like "Pretty Lady" and "Fairy Tales For Two".
The upbeat opening song is sung in Spanish. It has a funkier bass presence, like Pucho's records rather than the more laid back Fania Records approach to recording Latin music during the same period. The following cut is one of Willie's hits, "Broasted Or Fried". This is a different version from the popular version covered by the likes of Santana. "Ci Ci" is one of the funkier jams on this collection. It starts of with a gentle two minutes, but then more percussion is added and the whispered vocals kick in.
"Pretty Lady" is an other deceptive cut, starting like a mellow Ripple tune, which steadily builds intensity as more percussion enters the song. If it was faster, it could probably have been a Spanish disco hit, but the music sways with too much funk to give in to the commerciality of the day.
"Lost Years" sounds like a lost CTI take of a Blaxploitation movie theme, with spare horn arrangements punching through the thick base provided by rock steady drumming. "Soul Foo Young" is another slow funk jam, which captures Willie in a steady groove.
Lost and Found concludes with a soft love song called "A Little Tear". It is one of those love songs preceded by a monologue, which a number of well known artists were doing in the early seventies; James Brown, Bobby Womack, and of course Isaac Hayes. In "A Little Tear", Willie describes the sort of songs he likes singing to himself and his family in private moments, before thanking Ray Gilbert for writing the song and giving it to Willie. This is a hot Willie Bobo album, which stands on its own, rather than a rag tag collection of obviously unfinished jams that could only appeal to an artist's die-hard fans.

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