Sunday, March 23, 2008

God is mambo crazed

Cachao is now playing bass in heaven, and God's dancing the mambo.
One of the most influential musicians in many styles, from danzon, mambo, cha cha cha, to early fusion jazz has passed away, in Coral Gables.
Cachao was 89, and he died surrounded by family and friends after a short illness.
A man of absolutely no presumptions, with a modesty that was larger than his artistic life, Cachao left Cuba in 1962, to go to Spain and after performing there for a couple of years moved to New York City -where he found the salsa environment not satisfying- and then onto Las Vegas, where he played in clubs and shows.
His talent was not recognized at it fullest, and Cachao moved to Miami where he lived in obscurity performing in weddings and bar mitzvahs until in 1993 he was "discovered" by Andy Garcia and the Eschefans, 31 years after he had left Cuba. Out of a sudden, he was brought to the forefront and his never fading star was seen in public for the first time by a world wide audience.
One is left to wonder why the musical establishment choose to ignore this talent, and this monumental human being for so long.
He was always there, and Cubans with love for their culture and music always knew where to find Cachao. He would put together -as he used to say- a combo for a party in no time. He would just sit at the piano, play a bit, and then when a pianist showed up he would jump at his famous bass and play like no other.
One is left to wonder how is that the Eschefans "discovered him" after the roaring eighties, when they were already famous as artists and powerful as producers.
Contrary to what Andy Garcia might say, with Cachao an era doesn't end, Cachao was not an "ender" but rather the creator of new eras, of new styles, and a teacher, professor, and maestro to many new generations of musicians, who go from typical soneros, to the Beatles -don't tell me that Paul McCartney didn't drink from the source of Cuban music, many moons ago- and yes, to modern day Cuban punk bass players. There's nothing that ends, because Cachao has not been erased or has disappeared from our memories and from the musical universe he helped transform, and nothing ends because his creations are here for posterity.
Cachao was shy of the limelight. He was a man of honor, and he will be always a Cuban genius, today when he is doing the mambo and God is smiling.