Since I last posted here, the world lost one of our greatest musical influences of the last century.
Israel Cachao López, the Cuban bassist and composer who was a pioneer of the mambo, died on Saturday in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 89 and lived in Coral Gables.
Cachao, as he was universally known, transformed the rhythm of Cuban music when he and his brother, the pianist and cellist Orestes López, extended and accelerated the final section of the stately Cuban danzón into the mambo. “My brother and I would say to each other, ‘Mambea, mambea ahí,’ which meant to add swing to that part,” he said in a 2006 interview with The Miami Herald. The springy mambo bass lines Cachao created in the late 1930’s — simultaneously driving and playful — became a foundation of modern Cuban music, of the salsa that grew out of it, and also of Latin-influenced rock ’n’ roll and rhythm-and-blues. For much of the 20th century, Cachao’s innovations set the world dancing.
In the late 1950’s, he brought another breakthrough to Latin music with descargas: late-night Havana jam sessions that merged Afro-Cuban rhythms, Cuban songs and the convolutions of jazz. The mixture of propulsion and exploration in those recordings has influenced salsa and jazz musicians ever since.
Here is a YouTube tribute, from CCSFMusic25. The music is Cachao on bass and Paquito D'Rivera on clarinet:
And Cachao - Ahora Si, courtesy of winplayer86.