Watermelon Man (composition)
|Instrumental by Herbie Hancock|
|from the album Takin' Off|
A single reached the Top 100 of the pop chart.
10 on the pop chart.
Santamaría's recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
The popularity of the piece, due primarily to Mongo Santamaría, paid Hancock's bills for five or six years.
Hancock did not feel the composition was a sellout however, describing that structurally, it was one of his strongest pieces due to its almost mathematical balance.
The form is a sixteen bar blues.
The wheels of his wagon beat out the rhythm on the cobblestones."
Hancock played the tune for Santamaría at friend Donald Byrd's urging.
Santamaría started accompanying him on his congas, then his band joined in, and the small audience slowly got up from their tables and started dancing, laughing and having a great time.
Santamaría later asked Hancock if he could record the tune.
On December 17, 1962, Mongo Santamaría recorded a three-minute version, suitable for radio, where he joined timbalero Francisco "Kako" Baster in a cha-cha beat, while drummer Ray Lucas performed a backbeat.
Santamaría included the track on his album Watermelon Man (1962).
The single reached number 10 on Billboard in 1963.
|US Billboard Hot 100||10|
Hancock described his composition "Chameleon", also from Head Hunters, to Down Beat magazine in 1979: "In the popular forms of funk, which I've been trying to get into, the attention is on the rhythmic interplay between different instruments.
It's almost like African drummers where seven drummers play different parts"; "Watermelon Man" shares a similar construction.
The tune is a jazz standard and has been recorded over two hundred times:
- In 2003, pianist David Benoit covered the song from his album Right Here, Right Now.
- A live and funky performance at the 1999 Montreux Jazz Festival Casino Lights '99 featured Fourplay, George Duke, Boney James and Kirk Whalum trading choruses, and Rick Braun.
Hancock's recording has been sampled in:
- "1-900-LL-Cool-J" from Walking with a Panther (1989) by LL Cool J
- "Open Your Eyes" from Organized Konfusion (1991) by Organized Konfusion
- "Smoke Some Kill" from Smoke Some Kill (1988) by Schoolly D,
- "Pocket Full of Furl" from Uptown 4 Life (1996) by U.N.L.V.
- "Sanctuary" from Bedtime Stories (1994) by Madonna
Takin' Off version:
- Herbie Hancock – piano
- Dexter Gordon – tenor saxophone
- Billy Higgins – drums, percussion
- Freddie Hubbard – trumpet
- Butch Warren – double bass
Head Hunters version:
- Herbie Hancock – Fender Rhodes, clavinet, synthesizer
- Bennie Maupin – soprano saxophone
- Bill Summers – percussion, beer bottle, hindewhu
- Harvey Mason – drums
- Paul Jackson – bass guitar
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon Man (composition).