Willie Bobo has somehow managed to be a huge part of my musical growth. Especially when it came to the transition from adolescence to adulthood. That being said,I haven’t really heard a great deal of his music. My father has two of his albums. One is a CD of his 1967 release Juicy and the other a vinyl of his 1978 Columbia release Hell Of An Act To Follow,produced by Crusaders’ founder Wayne Henderson. Bobo is better known to me as a session man,playing on dates such as Herbie Hancock’s Inventions And Dimensions in 1963. As well as being a regular part of the house band on Bill Cosby’s short lived 1976 variety show called ‘Cos.
Born William Correa in NYC’s Spanish Harlem with Puerto Rican ancestry, Bobo began his career while in his late teens studying with fellow percussionist Mongo Santamaria. As well as acting as Mongo’s translator. Gigs with Tito Puente,George Shearing and Cal Tjader led him to begin recording as a band leader during the early 60’s. All the while maintaining his session work,which always seems to be good for percussionists. He had two Columbia albums in the late 70’s. The second of which was simply entitled Bobo. While I regretfully passed up a vinyl copy of this not too long ago,one song from it caught my ears online. It is called “Comin’ Over Me”.
A rolling drum is assisted by Bobo’s percussion,which of course is the base of the song itself. The rhythm is accompanied by a ringing rhythm guitar and slap bass interaction-both of which are accompanied by horn charts that brightly expand on the melody with an intense amount of joy. Along with occasional bursts of electric piano. This repeats over two choruses-the second of which scales up with a rock guitar solo on the end. The bridge of the song features an instrumental break showcases a trumpet solo-before going back to the songs second chorus. The song concludes with those two percussive choruses repeating themselves until it fades out.
This is a strong,chunky Afro-Latin funk jam with a very strong pop/soul melody. It’s very much in the vein of some of what Carlos Santana (whom Bobo had done session work for) was doing at the time. It showcases how much Bobo’s Afro-Cuban percussion has extended itself up to the late 70’s funk era and even after. In fact his son Erin wound up becoming a percussionist for the hip-hop crew Cypress Hill. That idea of keeping a musical legacy in the family when it comes to Afro-Latin rhythm is very meaningful in terms of keeping the strength of the groove alive. And this song represents some fine funk from what turned out to be Willie Bobo’s final album.