Willie Bobo -- Do What You Want To Do (Sussex 1971)

Originally published in "Los in the Grooves" by Kim Cooper and David Smay

Routledge 2005

As a child I spent hours poring over my sister's albums. My sister Julia only listened to music by people with strange names like Cal Tjader, Yusef Lateef, Hugh Masekela and my favorite Willie Bobo.

In 1971 Willie Bobo released a masterwork accompanied by a group made up of friends old and new (billed as the Bo-Gents) and deftly orchestrated by Steve Huffsteter (father of Steven Hufsteter of Quick and Cruzados fame). Although not as famous as Bobo's Verve releases, nonetheless Do What You Want To Do captures a special moment in the career of a jazz genius. It was released the same year as Isaac Hayes Shaft, which set the standard for this type of sax-heavy sound; perhaps this explains why Do What You Want To Do did not garner the same attention. It is, however, a subtler more finely crafted gem of an album.

The album is an uncanny blend of jazz, funk and soul. Imagine a jazz cruise with eight very fine musicians, including percussion masters Victor Pantoja and Willie Bobo. Five of the eight songs on this LP are by members of the band. Also included is a funky laid-back version of the Beatles "Come Together" that fits nicely in the context of the album.

The real standout, though, is the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic "Dindi." It is so well executed here that all other versions pale by comparison. The bass and drums lay down a mellifluous carpet of sinuous rhythm, while the electric piano accents in perfect time; Barry Zweig's guitar licks subtly accentuate Bobo's utterly disarming phrasing and the fluglehorn solo captures the feeling of the entire arrangement in a few short bars. This is "Dindi" as it has never been done, apologies to Astrud and kudos to Mr. Huffsteter. Bobo's classic deserves to be moved from the archives and put back on the turntable.