Café Mouffe: From Manteca To Watermelon Man

Set 1: GRP All-Stars Big Band. Manteca (live). GRP also has a fine studio version. More on the GRP All-Stars.

This week’s Mouffe was inspired by an Open Source conversation with Ned Sublette, author of Cuba and Its Music. Sublette spoke with insight about the history of the tunes presented here. “Manteca” was created for the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band by Cuban percussionist Chano Poza. Its startling sound propelled the “mambo craze” into mainstream jazz in the late 1940s. Listen to Diz tell the story of Chano’s wild but tragically brief life in clip 2. “Watermelon Man” was composed by Herbie Hancock, but another Cuban percussionist, Mongo Santamaria, made it a number 1 hit in 1963. Congas and Latin percussion became the foundation sound for all kinds of pop music after that.

Set 2: Dizzy Gillespie on Chano Poza and the making of Manteca. How can you listen to Diz and not smile?

Set 3: Mongo Santamaria. Watermelon Man. Mongo’s pop hit is the soundtrack for a fetching animated stroll here. It should be the flaneur’s anthem! If you want to see the master play congas, check out the vintage clip of Come, Candela.

Encore: Revisit Jane Bunnett on the Mouffe and you could dance all night.

Café Mouffe opens every Friday at 3:00 p.m. Please drop by for a listen and a chat. Sometimes the embedded videos don’t work here due to bandwidth constraints, but you’ll always find links to video sources in the set notes. Try them. If you’re curious about the Mouffe, here’s the original idea behind it’s creation.

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