First Listen: Mario Biondi transforms a Herbie Hancock classic

(January 26, 2021) Artists have found inspiration in Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” for many years. Trumpeter Donald Byrd gave the tune a soul/gospel touch by added church inspired moans to his version. Lionel Loueke’s acoustic guitar cover had a blues feel. Us3’s “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” mashed hip-hop with jazz. That fusion worked well for A Tribe Called Qwest, Guru and The Digable Planets in the early and mid-1990s and it gave Us3 a big hit in 1993.

It's easy to see why artists from a diverse range of musical styles and genres would be attracted to Hancock’s classic. It sports a lean, bouncy, Caribbean tinged rhythm section that served as the perfect foundation for Freddy Hubbard’s flights of creative fancy on the trumpet. The artists who have interpreted the song, including Mario Biondi’s pulsating disco-influenced version featured in this First Listen, use that funky rhythm as a springboard to create.

(January 26, 2021) Artists have found inspiration in Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” for many years. Trumpeter Donald Byrd gave the tune a soul/gospel touch by added church inspired moans to his version. Lionel Loueke’s acoustic guitar cover had a blues feel. Us3’s “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” mashed hip-hop with jazz. That fusion worked well for A Tribe Called Qwest, Guru and The Digable Planets in the early and mid-1990s and it gave Us3 a big hit in 1993.

It's easy to see why artists from a diverse range of musical styles and genres would be attracted to Hancock’s classic. It sports a lean, bouncy, Caribbean tinged rhythm section that served as the perfect foundation for Freddy Hubbard’s flights of creative fancy on the trumpet. The artists who have interpreted the song, including Mario Biondi’s pulsating disco-influenced version featured in this First Listen, use that funky rhythm as a springboard to create.

Biondi strives to make a propulsive club banger and the track’s churning bass creates the through line on which he hangs his vocals, percussion, saxophone and trumpet improvisation. Check out Biondi’s “Cantaloupe Island” here.

By Howard Dukes

Mario Biondi – “Cantaloupe Island”

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