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.
This cover couldn’t be more immediately deceiving… a bunch of privileged white kids dancing to brown-eyed soul from the great Afro-Cuban genius, Mongo Santamaría. With 1967’s Hey! Let’s Party, Mr. Santamaría fashioned a thick-lined afterparty staple with his horn-heavy deviance into the wonderful world of (a blanket term) Latin Jazz.
Pryor dug him (in both his screenplay contribution to Blazing Saddles as well as his empowering standup), as so you shall too.
A day that goes by without a Richard Pryor quote is both a sad, and extremely rare day. Literally every time someone mentions a year from the 20th century, my tuned Pryears : ) perk up, and I do everything within my power to stop from breaking into the classic Sugar Ray Robinson routine. “Nineteen what?!” One of the best gifts I’ve truly ever given myself was the countless hours of listening to Richard Pryor. Because, in doing so, I’m now able to conjure up Rich’s voice in my head, seemingly at will. It’s an overwhelmingly comfortable feeling to have Richard Pryor with you every moment of every day. One of life’s little gifts, I guess.
The following is a list of everyday objects and well, whatevers that will forever be linked to the funniest man to ever walk the Earth (sorry, Jason Hardwick): fish sandwiches; dice; change for $1; craps; pet monkeys; walking in the woods; snakes; winos; 11 o’clock; blackjack; polar bears; (I’m literally crying I’m laughing so hard just thinking of these comedic bits) Mongo Santamaría; turtle soup; license plates; a cool breeze; and anything deep (to name a few).
I’m strongly considering dedicating Saturday mornings to Richard Pryor, much to the dismay of my girlfriend and our uptight neighbors. If you’re unfamiliar with the crowned prince of comedy, start with Craps (After Hours). Keep an open mind and the kids out of earshot. You’ll thank me.
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!