Mongo Santamaría: Watermelon Man!

Vinyl reissue for the 1963 album containing the percussionist's only hit as well as the tune that put the Fame in Georgie in 1965


This record presents the complete original Mongo Santamaría LP Watermelon Man! (Battle BS-96120), the 12-inch album which followed the wide success of the title track, adding a bonus track in Tuli Bamba.

He takes us into a sonic world that is characterised by infectious rhythms where his playing exudes relentless accuracy and quality. Highlights include Pat Patrick’s alto solo on Bayou Roots, while Don’t Bother Me No More offers those classic, tightly knitted horn lines; and it’s worth shouting about Yeh-Yeh, notably made famous when Georgie Fame’s version reached the top of the UK charts in 1965.

While Watermelon Man (let’s not forget this was a Herbie Hancock composition that Santamaría politely adopted) served to introduce the music of Santamaría to a greater audience, its primary goal was circulating something that had been loved already for some time. The standalone track became Santamaría’s only hit record, and was eventually inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, in 1998.

This latest release in Waxtime’s ongoing reissue series serves as an enjoyable and affordable introduction to Santamaría and an essential listen for any Latin-jazz newbies.

Watermelon Man; (1) Funny Money; (2) Cut That Cane!; (1) Get The Money; (3) The Boogie Cha Cha Blues; (2) Don’t Bother Me No More (15.29) – (1) Love, Oh Love; Yeh-Yeh!; The Peanut Vendor; Go Git It!; Bayou Roots; (3) Suavito; (4) Tuli Bamba (20.54)
Santamaría (cga) all tracks, with:
(1) Marty Sheller (t); Pat Patrick (as, f); Bobby Capers (ts, f); Rodgers Grant (p); Victor Venegas (b); Ray Lucas (d); Kako, Joseph Gorgas (pc); Osvaldo “Chihuahua” Martinez (pc, v). New York City, 1962.
(2) as (1) but Frank Hernandez, Kalil Madi (d) replace Ray Lucas. New York City, 17 December 1962.
(3) as (2) but add Mauricio Smith (f).
(4) Louis Valizán (t); Marcus Cabuto (t); Rolando Lozano (f); José “Chombo” Silva (ts, vn); René Hernandéz (p); Félix “Pupi” Legarreta (vn): Víctor Venegas (b); Willie Bobo (tim); Bayardo Verlardi, Pete Escovedo (pc, clo); Rudy Calzado (clo). San Francisco, 1960.
Waxtime Records 772343