Willie Bobo

Juicy

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Willie Bobo's music is triangulated between Latin jazz (Mongo Santamaria's division; the percussionist first gained notice in Santamaria's band), what by the mid-'60s had come to be called soul-jazz, and good old-fashioned lounge-act kitsch. None of the three influences overwhelms the others on 1967's Juicy, although from the lubricious title and cover photo on down, there's a certain "swingin' at Hef's pad" vibe to the proceedings that makes this album of particular interest to latter-day hipsters. Most of the song selection consists of soul-jazz covers of popular hits of the day, from a funky take on Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood" to a bossa nova-fied version of Bob Crewe's "Music to Watch Girls By," but the real standouts are the small handful of band originals, particularly the fiery groove of the title track, on which Bobo's timbales get their hardest workout. The 1998 CD reissue includes a full half-dozen extras, mostly less-than-revelatory alternate takes and leftovers, but the restored full-length version of the swell "La Descarga del Bobo" is a nice touch.

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