Willie Bobo pulled an impressive lineup for his debut as a leader, due in part to a profile gained from his work with Cal Tjader and Herbie Mann. Leading the brass section in this midsized group is trumpeter Clark Terry, who lends the necessary grit and fire, while Joe Farrell's burring tenor gives the record dynamic range. Though Bobo's percussion kit is displayed on the front, it's occasionally difficult to appreciate his playing on the record; he sounds bored and in the background during a trio of Brazilian crossover numbers (this was the year of Jazz Samba, after all), leaving organist Frank Anderson to flare his way playfully through his own "Bossa Nova in Blue." Bobo does finally allow himself some solo space at the end of "Capers," after several minutes of brilliant interplay between brass and reeds. The highlight comes with the group's interpretation of Freddie Hubbard's "Crisis," a slow-burning hard bop number with Bobo's timbales shuffle framing more excellent sectioning, with Farrell's tenor and an unnamed trombone positioned in counterpoint to Terry's trumpet. With none of the Latin fire solo features or pop crossover material often found on "Stereo Spectacular" LPs of the day, Bobo's Beat is a jazz fan's delight: great work from all the principles, and a steady sense of inter-relational talents sounding off in close harmony with each other.
AllMusic Review by John Bush