Monday, August 11, 2008

1973: Watermelon Man

Herbie Hancock: Watermelon Man


It's interesting that the first year prompt that I've been here for is 1973. 1973 marked the end of my musical childhood. In 1974, I entered high school, and began to buy my own music. But in 1973, my musical taste was almost entirely a product of what I was exposed to by my two older brothers.

Nowadays, if you say fusion jazz to me, I'm likely to fake snoring. Somehow, the idea of combining rock instrumentation with jazz sensibilities has become a recipe for the musical wallpaper which has replaced Muzac. But in 1973, the idea was still radical and new, and the resulting music was still exciting.

So when one of my brothers brought home Herbie Hancock's album Head Hunters, the effect on me was like a bolt of lightning. I believe the event began with a warning about the music not having words. I became somewhat anxious. The album started with the opening bass figure of "Chameleon". Ok, I guess. The album continued with several repetitions of the bass figure. Is this going somewhere? But the song very gradually began to change, and I grew fascinated. Sixteen minutes later, at the end of "Chameleon", I was sold. And then something astonishing happened. This weird, if undeniably musical sound came out of the speakers. "Do you know what that is?" my brother asked, "it's somebody blowing on bottles". It sounds every bit as amazing to me now as it did then.

And that was my introduction to jazz.

Submitted by Darius

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