Mambo pioneer Israel 'Cachao' Lopez dies

Cuban bassist and composer Israel "Cachao" Lopez, is credited with pioneering the mambo style of music.

By
March 24, 2008 09:21
Mambo pioneer Israel 'Cachao' Lopez dies

Israel Lopez 224. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Cuban bassist and composer Israel "Cachao" Lopez, who is credited with pioneering the mambo style of music, died Saturday. He was 89. Known simply as "Cachao," the Grammy-winning musician had fallen ill in the past week and died surrounded by family members at Coral Gables Hospital, spokesman Nelson Albareda said. Cachao left communist Cuba and came to the United States in the early 1960s. He continued to perform into his late '80s. Cuban-American actor Andy Garcia, who made a 1993 documentary about the bassist's career, credited Cachao with being a major influence in Cuban musical history and said his passing marked the end of an era. Cachao was born in Havana in 1918 to a family of musicians. A classically trained bassist, he began performing with the Havana symphony orchestra as a teenager, working under the baton of visiting guest conductors, such as Herbert von Karajan, Igor Stravinsky and Heitor Villa-Lobos, during his nearly 30-year career with the orchestra. He and his late brother, multi-instrumentalist Orestes Lopez, created the mambo in the late 1930s. The mambo emerged from their improvisational work with the danzon, an elegant musical style that lends itself to slow dancing. It also influenced the development of salsa music.


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