by San Francisco
|Cachao, at 81 years of age,
was in danger of living out his life without any well-deserved
glory. He was working in the Communist system without any of the
privilege he had become accustomed to before Castro. In the
1980's he decided to immigrate to Miami and live with relatives.
Cachao lived in Miami for eight years in anonymity. A call then
came from Cuban actor Andy Garcia. Garcia, a long-time fan of Cachao, was interested in getting together with the musician for
a documentary. The artist had first met Cachao in Cuba as a very
young boy when introduced by his father. Many years later in the
late 80's, Andy Garcia was filming the Godfather in
San Francisco for director/producer Francis Ford Coppola when he
encountered Cachao again. Beginning in 1993 the two artists
have collaborated on every project beginning with this first one
which resulted in a highly acclaimed documentary.
Under his CineSon banner, Andy
Garcia made his directorial debut and co-produced the feature
length documentary concert film Cachao...Como Su Ritmo No Hay
Dos (Like His Rhythm There Is No Other), a feature
length documentary concert film about the co-creator of the
Mambo, Israel Lopez Cachao.
produced and performed on Volumes I and II of Cachao—Master
Sessions, the first a 1994 Grammy Award winner and the
latter a 1995 Grammy Award nominee. Cachao—Cuba Linda was
the duo's third installment for Garcia's CineSon record label
and was nominated for a 2001 Grammy and 2000 Latin Grammy Award.
The pair re-teamed to record ¡Ahora Sí!, the fourth
installment of Cachao's master sessions, again under the CineSon
label. The CD will be sold in conjunction with a bonus DVD,
containing an hour-long behind the scenes film of the recording
sessions. The film, also titled ¡Ahora Sí!, was directed
Born in Havana, Garcia was only five when his family fled to
Florida after Fidel Castro's takeover of his homeland. He
performed in community theatre productions and variety shows and
attended Florida International University as a theater major. He
performed in regional theater productions in the Miami area
before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a film career in the late
Garcia has been married to Marivi Lorido Garcia since 1982. The
couple live in Los Angeles with their four children Dominik,
Daniella, Alessandra and Andres.
|On May 6th 2005 Cachao missed one of
the first concerts ever in his eight decade career when his wife
of 58 years, Estelle Lopez, had died earlier that day at a Miami
hospital, a month after being admitted for treatment of Alzheimer's. His
late wife, like her husband, was also 86. She had been Cachao's friend, adviser and
constant companion on tours. Cachao on tour amazes in many ways, one
being how a seemingly frail older gentleman can become a suddenly
energized musician on top of his game.
|"Upbeat music is pure
happiness, and you want to have a good time."
Six months earlier, the great musical
legend Cachao returned in glory to San Francisco to be honored by Carnaval San
Francisco [carnavalsf.com]and hailed
the great mambo King at the Gift Center in a triumphant community
October 30, 2004 concert made possible by Comcast.
Committee Chair,Miguel Bustos and Carnaval producer and
event Roberto Hernanez thank Comcast representatives for making
the historic night possible. The opening act was the Latin Jazz
Youth Ensemble of SF who will be appearing at the beginning of
the Carnaval 2005 parade May 29, 2005.
Proceeds from 2005 Carnaval SF will go to the expansion of the
Carnaval Cultural Arts Education Program (CCAEP) in the San
Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). CCAEP provides the
unique opportunity for our children to experience music, dance
and journal writing, along with their academic subjects!
Then on March 6, Cachao again visited San Francisco as the honoree of a two-day celebration of Afro-Cuban
culture titled "To Cuba With Love." Sponsored by the College of Creative
Arts at San Francisco State University, the events included the awarding
of the first Marcus Award for Lifetime Achievement to Cachao at
the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The money for the
center and prize was from George and Judy Marcus,who grew up on Potrero Hill and
went to SF State in the '60s. George Marcus is best known as the first
name in the highly successful local real estate office of Marcus &
John Santos toured Europe and the United States with Israel "Cachao"
Lopez, an 86-year-old Cuban bassist and composer, considered one
of the founding fathers of the modern Danzón . From 1976-1980,
Santos directed La Orquesta Tipica Cienfuegos, the first group
in the San Francisco Bay Area to perform traditional danzones;
and in 1978 he published the extensive and highly acclaimed
liner notes for the recording, The Cuban Danzón, its Ancestors
and Descendants for the Smithsonian-Folkways label. He had
composed, performed, and recorded danzones and derivatives for
more than 20 years.
John Santos also delivered the keynote
speech to to the historic gathering at Bimbos to launch a book
examining an important element of the Latin beat and the
mythical place the Mission District has in the hearts of those
who strove to create a counter culture of global relevance in
the 60's & 70's. Speaking before the attentive crowd celebrating
publication of VOICES of LATIN ROCK Mr. Santos called for the
drum circles at Dolores Park
in the Mission Districk.
The inauguration of the International Center
for the Arts a ceremony was held the day before the Cachao concert at
Bimbos. Here Israel "Cachao" Lopez accepted the
plaque and honorarium of $25, 000 with his usual grace. ‘Sin ustedes, no
hay Cachao, con ustedes, hay Cachao’, he humbly stated. Both events were
sold out well in advance as Cuban actor Andy Garcia graced San
Francisco with his presence and on bongos.
The inventor of the mambo rhythm with his brother will live immortally
as one of the great bassists of all time, framing our Cuban music
inheritance whose historical influence on the American music forms of
jazz and rock is still argued by contemporary musicologists and
historians like John Santos.
Cachao's music recalls the Afro-Cuban golden age with
its mix of mambo, son, guaguancó, rumba, boleros and danzón. The elegant
sons and danzons are the precusors in style to the mambo.
Nearly every piece, regardless of tempo or style, made room for
masterful jams also known as descargas. Descargas are a Cachao
specialty which makes him much revered among fellow musicians.
year's Carnaval graphic by Gabriela Lujan of the Mission
Cultural Center references the golden age of Cuba when its
culture was celebrated and imitated throughout the world.
In the 1930s Cuban dancehall, and Mambo, a variation on danzón
invented by Cachao and his brother, Orestes "Macho" Lopez. Mambo
incorporated a series of syncopated bass riffs, punctuating the
traditional danzón melodies. This heady new rhythm, el nuevo
ritmo, first aired on Cuban radio in 1938, breathing new life
into the sedate danzón and sparking a worldwide musical
renaissance. An apt metaphor for Carnaval San Francisco's vision
of spreading the message of joy in the present inherent in
celebrating our diversity in unity when we celebrate Carnaval
San Francisco. the greatest multicultural show in the world.
"Being a musician
from birth, imagine, my world always has been music 24 hours a day," he
said. "I'm a musician, writing, recording, always doing something new
Creating and playing music inspires and uplifts, provokes and saddens,
Cachao said. And it can help you keep a youthful outlook.
"It also depends on your mood or situation, but music can always make
you feel better about things," he said. "Classical music, of course,
makes one feel very relaxed at a stressful time. Upbeat music is pure
happiness, and you want to have a good time.
"Music is like therapy, and in fact it is beneficial for all parts of
the body," he said. "I've heard they play music during operations.
Hopefully I won't have to have an operation, but if it's serious, I'll
want to have music."
Cachao told the Houston Chronicle