Herbert Jeffrey Hancock (“Herbie”, born April 12, 1940) is a jazz pianist and composer. He embraces elements of rock and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz.
As part of Miles Davis’s “second great quintet”, Hancock helped redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section, and was one of the primary architects of the “post-bop” sound. Later, he was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace synthesizers and funk. Yet for all his restless experimentalism, Hancock’s music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs “cross over” and achieved success among pop audiences.
Hancock’s best-known solo works include the singles “I Thought It Was You” and “Rockit”. and “Cantaloupe Island”, “Maiden Voyage”, “Chameleon” or “Watermelon Man”
Watermelon Man” is a jazz standard written by Herbie Hancock, first released on his debut album, Takin’ Off (1962), in a grooving hard bop version that featured improvisations by Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon. A single of the tune reached the Top 100 of the pop charts. Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaría released the tune as a latin pop single the next year on Battle Records, where it became a surprise hit, reaching #10 on the pop charts. Santamaría’s recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. Hancock radically re-worked the tune, combining elements of funk, for the album Head Hunters (1973)
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