Willie Bobo: Haitian Lady


Haitian Lady


Willie Bobo (percussion)


Spanish Grease / Uno Dos Tres 1-2-3 (Verve 521664)

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Willie Bobo (percussion),

Melvin Lastie (cornet), Bobby Brown (sax), Clarence Henry (guitar), Jim Phillips, Richard Davis (basses), Victor Panoja (congas)


Composed by Harold Ousley


Recorded: New York, August 20-September 8, 1965


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Mambo fans will get off on Willie Bobo's "Haitian Lady," a Latin-flavored cha-cha featuring some riveting improvisation. While Melvin Lastie's cornet solo is hot and the percussion burns, the star of the show is guitarist Clarence Henry. His descending rhythms help the cut simmer, and his ascending, Olympian solos impress. In fact, the entire ensemble's dynamics are impressive, proving that full drum kits are sometimes unnecessary. Drummers Bobo and Victor Panoja make their instruments sound like a kit, though; while one player occasionally keeps time by playing a single cymbal panned heavily to the right, the other player's hand percussion fills the spaces the kit traditionally would occupy. The percussionists bounce riffs off one another and the ideas are intricately developed. Once you hear this track, you won't forget it; the minimal presentation gets under your skin after a single listen. Of course, its catchiness testifies to the strength of saxophonist Harold Ousley's original composition. Since Willie Bobo generally recorded covers of other artists' material on his albums, hearing his amorous take on "Haitian Lady" is a special delight.

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary

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