Arts & Entertainment, Music

Jam Session: Two Approaches to “Watermelon Man”

Herbie Hancock

Lesson time 10:16 min

Herbie brings in a rhythm section to break down two versions of his classic tune. They also accompany a synthesizer solo steeped in the sounds of funk and the blues.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Jam Session: Two Approaches To “Watermelon Man”


This is going to be the original 1962 version, which was not the big hit that another version, by Mongo Santamaria, made in 1963. But this is the original way it was written. And then we're going to move from that to a rearrangement of it that happened 11 years later, in 1973. And I recorded this with a group called The Headhunters, and the record was called, Headhunters. So here is Watermelon Man. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Thank you. So play the-- play the first-- the first baseline, again. Right. Now son, that's just simple. Now, the other version. Right. So you see there's a big difference, in a way, with the baseline, different tempo, different feel to it. Anthony, what's the beat that you actually played for Watermelon Man? The first one or the second one? The second one, second one. It's kind of like, uh-- Right. And, what did you do for the first one? I played something a little bit, I guess more straighter, I guess I played-- --more straight ahead, huh? Ha, ha, yeah. Is that what you did? Yeah. Kind of like a-- Great, great. So, I hope you can hear, in this, that there are more rhythms than a lot of what you hear on the radio today. There are a lot of things that you can play with, have fun with, surprise yourself, and kind of, surprise other musicians that you're working with. So, it's like variety is the spice of life, so enjoy it.

About the Instructor

Herbie Hancock's jazz career started in his family's living room, listening to his favorite records and trying to play along. Now, he's one of the most celebrated musicians in the world. Join Herbie at the piano as he shares his approach to improvisation, composition, and harmony. Gain access to 10+ original piano transcriptions, including 5 exclusive solo performances.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Herbie Hancock

Learn to improvise, compose, and develop your own sound across 25 video lessons.

Explore the Class
Sign Up