Blog, Cuba

Cuban Musician Cachao Featured On PBS “American Masters” Series

September 20, 2010 By Roque Planas

Israel López, better known as “Cachao,” revolutionized Cuban music. A master of danzón, a slow style of Cuban dance music, Cachao — along with his brother Orestes on piano — introduced rhythmic innovations that are sometimes credited with leading to the creation of mambo.

Born to a family of musicians in 1918, Cachao studied classical music and played with the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra from 1930 to 1960.

Cachao became famous in Havana in the 1950s for his “descargas,” jam sessions that fused the technique of improvisation common to jazz with his repertoire of Cuban music.

After the Revolution, Cachao left Cuba in 1962, traveling first to Spain and then to the United States. Cachao returned to prominence in the 1990s, when Cuban actor Andy Garcia produced two successful discs for Cachao, “Master Sessions I” and “Master Sessions II,” well as the documentary “Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos.”

Cachao died in Coral Gables, Fla., in 2008, at 89 years old.

Outtakes from the program, entitled “Memories of Cachao,” are available online and can be viewed in the video below.

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

The “American Masters” series at PBS will feature Cuban composer and bassist “Cachao,” in its program airing on Sept. 20.


clintito says:

Bravisimo Cacahao!

Barbarita says:

Glad that Andy made the movie, but why not in Puerto Rico? Is there a friendly rift between PRs and Cubans? They are each wings of the great bird that flies over the Carribean.

The movie was enjoyable and thought-provoking. The music FANTASTICO! Cachao was a wonderful gift to all of us who appreciate “the unique Cuban beat”


American Masters amigos: I absolutely LOVED the entire broadcast !!! Is there any chance that PBS might show it again in the future? ( I’ve talked about it with many friends who would also like to see it.) If not, is it possible for me to purchase a VHS or ANY other form of the program? My Spanish teacher is Cuban born, 88 years old, and crazy about his beloved Cachao! Sadly, he missed that program; AND, my TV taping apparatus decided to die an agonizing death the night of Sept. 20, last year. Needless to say, Sr. Ramon’ Ramos was heartbroken!

Sr. Ramos will be 89 in October, and is STILL teaching! If I can POSSIBLY give him a copy of Israel “Cachao” Lopez: The Cuban Tradition on American Music, he will be the happiest humanoid on this planet! So, amigos, PLEASE see what you can do for this loyal PBS American Masters devotee.

You may contact me via E mail , or by phone (586) 218-7795. If you need any other data, please let me know. In the meantime, muchas gracias for your kind attention to this message. I know the program took place half a year ago, but, still, I’m crossing my fingers that you’ll be able to help me. Thanks so much….and Viva American Masters and PBS!

Sincerely, Jeanie Sinclair-Smith

Miguel says:

Yes, Barbarita, there is a rift between Puerto Ricans and Cubans, we love each other! I know, I am Cuban Married to a Puerto Rican.

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