Poncho Sanchez: Cantaloupe Island

He is the miracle man of Latin jazz. Just breaking into the Cuban and Puerto Rican dominated Latin jazz scene was no small achievement for a Mexican-American from Laredo, Texas. But Poncho Sanchez has not only risen to a position of preeminence, but has somehow stayed with the same label for more than a quarter of a century. He now releases his 24th album on Concord. It's hardly the same label any more—new owner, new headquarters, new city, new management, even the LPs are gone—but Sanchez remains. And for a good reason: he delivers the goods, again and again, with effective charts, infectious rhythms, solid musicianship and smart song selection. Here he presents a deceptively simple version of "Cantaloupe Island," which reminds me of another standout Latin cover of a Herbie Hancock tune. But the casual listener might not notice the modulations and harmonic changes that give a fresh spin to a familiar song. Sanchez lays down a very crisp groove, and the song is ready for airplay straight out of the case. Are there still jazz stations out there looking for hip new songs to play? I'm not sure, but I won't bet against an artist who has always succeeded against the odds.

October 01, 2009 · 0 comments


Milton Nascimento (with Herbie Hancock & Pat Metheny): Cantaloupe Island

Milton Nascimento and Herbie Hancock have a musical relationship that dates back to the Brazilian star's first US album from 1969, while their later collaboration on "San Vincente," from the 1989 Mlitons CD resulted in a standout track in the career of both artists. Here Nascimento covers a Hancock jazz standard, the hard bop classic "Cantaloupe Island," and invites the composer and Pat Metheny to join him in the studio. Metheny is very comfortable in this setting—indeed the "even eights" sound of Nascimento's Clube da Esquina era recordings exerted a noticeable influence on Pat's own work. Hancock lays back at first, but before the second chorus arrives, he is driving the rhythm. He digs into his personal Blue-Note-meets-Brazil bag that I have heard him use in these types of situations; it is very effective. Even without a drummer, there is hardly enough room for Metheny, but he floats and flutters, and when his solo comes, he digs in with a very earthy improvisation. Nascimento needs no lyrics to express his soulfulness—this track will show how much Mr. McFerrin learned from the Brazilian master. Milton's voice is angelic and devilish at the same time. This song has inspired some hot renditions, including Hancock's simmering original and Us3's manipulation of the same. But Nascimento has added another must-hear version to the list.

August 03, 2009 · 0 comments


Us3: Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)

Growing up in the early 1990s as a teenager meant several things. One of them being that you knew this song. The brain children behind this group, Simpson and Wilkinson, sampled Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island" and ended up with one of the biggest hits of the '90s. Along with Powell's raps, this song eventually went gold and ended up being one of the strongest selling Blue Note albums ever. Lifted straight from Hancock's record, the feel of his 1960s original was transplanted to dance floors all across the world through this song.

August 08, 2008 · 0 comments


Herbie Hancock: Cantaloupe Island

This is one of the funkiest acoustic jazz performances of the era, ranking with those other Blue Note classics, Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder," Art Blakey's "Moanin'" and Hancock's own previous entry in the slam-funk competition, "Watermelon Man." The largely static harmonies impart a slight modal tinge to the composition, creating a spacey-futuristic groove that still sounds modernistic today. Hancock's piano vamp drives the band, and Hubbard contributes one of his most memorable solos. Forget about Gilligan's or Crusoe's boring beachfront property . . . the nightlife is better on "Cantaloupe Island."

November 26, 2007 · 1 comment


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