About the Bobo Experience
I joined Willie Bobo in 1976, after the Courtial band had completed the tracks for a second album. Willie heard those tracks and wanted the entire band to join with him, but only Errol Knowles, the vocalist, and myself were able to accept the invitation.
We played a number of clubs in the Los Angeles vicinity: The Lighthouse, with Howard Rumsey at the door supplying the voice while on stage Willie held the mike and attempted to lip-sync to what Howard was saying. We also played clubs in Marina Del Rey and by the QE2, plus some northern California dates – Great American Music Hall, etc. This got the band tight and ready for the road.
We began our tour with the first Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. The opening act was Flora Purim and Airto, then the Bobo band, and the headliner was Weather Report. (Later, at Montreaux, Weather Report opened for us – and let me assure you that no band should have to follow Weather Report! We also played both Newport Jazz Festivals (at the time, not held in Newport, one was at Carnegie Hall, the other upstate New York at Saratoga Springs. Then to La Spezia, Italy, a week in Nice, the Olympiastaade in Munich, the Northsea Jazz Festival (Amsterdam’s week-long blowout,) and Jazz at the Ally Pally (Alexandria Palace.)
During the tour, we had many major artists sit in and play with us. Sonny Stiit played two sets with us in Nice, James Moody joined us for a tune in Germany, and Dizzy Gillespie played with us twice in Nice, and then closed the Jazz at the Ally Pally festival with us – for the last song of the set, last song of the week-long festival, and last song of the tour for the band, and laast song I ever played with this amazing talent. Dizzy jammed with us in a funky, electric-Miles-style jam. He would leave a huge hole, then play a quick flurry of note á la electric Miles, and look up and giggle like a little kid! (I had played with Dizzy years before in Baltimore, and was familiar with his sense of humor – this was very typical Dizzy, and we all had a wonderful time…)
In album cover order, front to back left to right:
- Tony Horowitz:Trumpet
- Victor Pantoja: Congas, Percussion
- Errol Knowles: Vocals
- David ‘Dasher’ Kempton: Keyboards
- Abel Zarate: Guitar
- Willie Bobo: Timbales, Vocals
- Clay Lawrey: Trombone
- Steve Gutierrez:Drums
- Jim Coile: Sax
- Welton Gite: Bass