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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.  

Garcia subsequently 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 by Garcia.


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 1970s.

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 []and hailed as the great mambo King at the Gift Center in a triumphant community October 30, 2004 concert made possible by Comcast. 


MNC Carnaval 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 & Millichap.


 In 1996, 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 reestablishment of 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.

Thus 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 musically."

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

"So we started way back, and now we are going back to just ourselves. Rediscovering ourselves. And from there on we can move forward. We are trying to put together the great things of the past with the present for the future. You know the sky is not the limit anymore, it is space now. We are discovering that we need to come back down to earth, from where we started. It’s as if we are trying to balance things up, in essence."
Baba at
the Godmother and
Queen of Samba

Beth Carvalho
click pic for more info
 Saturday - June 25, 2005
- 8pm - Herbst Theatre,
401 Van Ness Avenue -
San Francisco

 Tickets: City Box Office 415/392-4400 &
 Reserved seating: $55/$45/$35/$25 - group discounts available at
 City Box Office only


 Main SF Page > no frame|| 2005 News ||
2005 Parade Contingents || May events || Festival || King Paulo || Queen Vanessa || King-Queen contest || CAribbeanS on Parade || CACHAO
aForum-SF || Fotos SF 2005 > Foto SF Links > aForum > events-aforum
GLOBAL MAGIC 2005: Age of Aquarius || Temples of Rebirth || drum