Israel "Cachao" Lopez
Cuban bass player and composer Israel "Cachao" Lopez began his career in Havana in the 1930s. He and his brother, coming from a musical family noted for bassists, are credited with writing the first Mambo musical arrangements for the Arcano y sus Maravillas. Watching Cachao thump, coax, and tease the strings of his large, upright bass is to see a true master at work. Perhaps his most notable contribution to the evolution of Cuban music are his classic '50s jam session (or "descarga") recordings, which still serve as advanced music lessons for aspiring musicians. Playing a wide range of Cuban styles, his ensemble's horn players and rhythm section would incorporate jazz elements on these incendiary tracks. Migrating from Havana to New York (and later, Las Vegas), he was living in Miami when actor Andy Garcia produced the Master Sessions recordings; coupled with a documentary film of a live performance, he introduced a new public to the sophisticated, diverse history of Cuban music. The prolific composer and acknowledged father of mambo died on March 22, 2008, at the age of 89.