Watermelon Man Mongo Santamaria unearths his namesake 1963 hit (Watermelon Man) for a slightly extended version on his 1965 album, La Bamba. This Latin Jazz collection of 12 tracks is an uplifting, cha-cha-inspired insta-dance party on two, 33 1/3 rpm sides of wax. It also contains both flute and tenor sax contributions from the famous Hubert Laws, WELL before the time of his famed CTI Records success. This record is solid from start to finish, is perfect for mid-afternoon shuffles around the office or living room, and is well worth the hunt.
My apologies to fans of the masterful, and iconic Ian Anderson, but there has never been a bigger, fear-invoking, badass flautist than Hubert Laws. Have a quick look-see at the bevy of influential and groundbreaking artists Mr. Laws has performed with: Chet Baker, George Benson, Ron Carter, Johnny Hammond, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Quincy Jones, Herbie Mann, Mongo Santamaria, Leon Spencer and Walter Wanderley… and that’s only naming about half of his collaborators.
The man was even featured on an early Groove post about the “junk induced, vodka-and-coke spilling, dank, eye-burning, smoke-filled classic for the casual 1980 Contemporary Jazz fan in all of us,” the illustrious Empire Jazz.
The Chicago Theme is upbeat groove-jazz with a Starsky & Hutch-style flair, and comes highly recommended. Released on Creed Taylor’s prominent CTI label back in 1975, this six track funktastic medley tackles such well known incarnations as You Make Me Feel Brand New (covered by everyone from Boyz II Men, to Rod Stewart to Babyface) and Midnight at the Oasis (I can’t help but picture Ron and Sheila Albertson performing an abridged version of this track whilst auditioning for Corky St. Clair’s Red, White and Blaine in the timeless, Waiting for Guffman).
One doesn’t think “badass” when they think of the flute… Hubert Laws is here to rectify that, and but quick!