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'Dig My Feeling': Latin Jazz legend Willie Bobo's lost tapes resurface

Willie Bobo and his son, Eric Bobo.
Willie Bobo and his son, Eric Bobo.
Nacional Records
Willie Bobo and his son, Eric Bobo.
As a teenager, Willie Bobo was already performing professionally with some of the greatest Latin jazz artists.
Nacional Records
Willie Bobo and his son, Eric Bobo.
Willie Bobo's career spanned the late '50s into the early '80s.
Nacional Records

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You might recognize the song “Evil Ways" as the hit from Carlos Santana, but actually the original was recorded in 1967 by Willie Bobo.

A bandleader and percussionist, Bobo's career coincided with the rise of Latin music from the early ‘60s into the ‘80s. As a teenager he began playing with Mongo Santamaría, Tito Puente and other Latin music greats.

Bobo also had a successful solo career, recording for Verve, Blue Note and Columbia records. But he died in 1983 at the age of 49.

His son, Eric, continued in his footsteps — first with his dad’s music and then branching out as a hip hop percussionist for Cypress Hill and the Beastie Boys. But Eric Bobo’s most recent project brought him back to his father and to his Latin music roots. 

I always would listen to Latin music. My dad would show me all the records and would say, this is your school. Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaría, El Pito, Machito... I mean, incredible albums. He was always about uniting people through music. Music is the universal language. So I think that, had he still been alive, he would've still been making music as long as he could.

The album, “Dig My Feeling” is made entirely of private recordings that Willie Bobo made in the 1970s but had never released.

Listening to these tapes, I rediscovered the genius of my father and how he would work with these amazing musicians and come out with this sound — this music. He didn't read or write music, but he had it in his soul. It was incredible just to have that feeling of being the son of such a great iconic musician and then to hear these new songs and hear his voice again. It was emotional for me because I hadn't heard his voice like that in years.

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