Israel "Cachao" Lopez

Who is Cachao?

Israel "Cachao" Lopez is often lauded as the creator of Mambo, which then led to the advent of Salsa music. More broadly, he is respected as the greatest bassist in modern Cuban musical history.  Over six decades his innovations on the instrument and his participation in countless groups have made him a giant who has spread the Cuban sound out of the Caribbean and into the mainstream.

I came upon Cachao and his musical legacy via the actor (and avid percussionist) Andy Garcia in a documentary entitled Cachao: Uno Más, currently on PBS's American Masters. Discussed in the film, the recording above is a version of Lopez's seminal cut called "Chanchullo", originally titled "Rareza de Melitón" in 1937,  and clearly the source for Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" later popularized by Carlos Santana. Below is the film's synapsis from PBS:

The Grammy-winning bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez died in Coral Gables, Florida in March 2008, almost 90-years old. A maestro of legendary status on the world stage and ultimately considered one of the greatest Afro-Cuban musicians of all time, he had made his home in the United States for the past four decades. Coming from a family of classical musicians, he had formal conservatory training and held a seat in the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra for 30 years, performing under the direction of all of the legendary international conductors of the time – beginning at age 10! American Masters pays tribute to the Father of Mambo in the series’ bilingual film, Cachao: Uno Más premiering Monday, September 20, 2010... The film is produced, narrated and illuminated by the actor Andy Garcia, a close friend and ardent fan, who helped re-establish Cachao’s career in the ‘90s. Among the film’s many treats is Garcia playing the bongos with Cachao.

Here's one of Cachao's first American releases--can't wait to hear it!


Lonnie Johnson

"When I mean soul, I mean soul."



Paco de Lucía



Academy Awards Contest ~ Take 5

Okeh, let's go people.  It's Oscar contest time again.  Copy the entire ballot into a comment and erase all but your pick for each category.  I'll count 'em up and we'll see who reigns supreme!

Best Picture
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actor
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Jonah Hill (Wolf of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

Best Director
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

Best Adapted Screenplay
John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)

Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater (Before Midnight
Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street
Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)

Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena)

Best Original Screenplay
David O. Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle)
Bob Nelson (Nebraska)
Spike Jonze (Her)
Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club)
Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)

Best Foreign Film
Denmark, The Hunt
Belgium, The Broken Circle Breakdown
Italy, The Great Beauty
Palestine, Omar
Cambodia, The Missing Picture

Best Documentary Feature
20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
Dirty Wars
The Square
Cutie and the Boxer

Best Animated Feature
The Wind Rises
Despicable Me 2
The Croods
Ernest & Celestine

Film Editing
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave

Best Song
"Alone Yet Not Alone" (Alone Yet Not Alone)
"Happy" (Despicable Me 2)
"Let It Go" (Frozen)
"The Moon Song" (Her)
"Ordinary Love" (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

Best Original Score
John Williams (The Book Thief)
Steven Price (Gravity)
Alexandre Desplat (Philomena)
Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks)
William Butler and Owen Pallett (Her)

Best Cinematography
Philippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster)
Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis)
Roger Deakins (Prisoners)
Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska)

Costume Design
American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years A Slave

Visual Effects
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

Short Film, Live Action
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem

Short Film, Animated
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Room on the Broom

Documentary Short Subject
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Best Perm and/or Comb-over

Best Dental Implants


Yasiin Gaye by Amerigo Gazaway

Mashup master Gazaway melds classic R&B and hip hop in this new iteration.  His previous best was the afrobeat and old school blend of Fela Soul.  Taste test below.

Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and Marvin Gaye


Even More Selected Podcasts

Some time ago I put together a short list of worthwhile podcasts. Here are a few more to keep that list going.   Try these out on a walk or a commute or wherever you want to engage your imagination and/or be inspired.

UnFictional - KCRW puts together compelling stories from the Independent Producer Project, a great way to hear perspectives from storytellers who might not cut through the greater internet din. Here's a start for you: the tale of Nature Boy, a.k.a. eden ahbez, a California ascetic whose spiritual journey was a precursor to West Coast "hippie" culture.

RTÉ Radio 1 - This is not where I originally heard the story of a German paraglider who was hopelessly ensnared by an Australian thunderhead during competition, but if that gripping survival story is any indication, the Irish radio giant has plenty more quality pieces to discover.

Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On - An interest in field recordings and American roots music led me to this set of programs, chock full of rare Folkways Records treasures presented by the son of Moses Asch, the label's founder.

The whole collection is illuminated by the historical insights provided by Michael Asch & folklorists making these a pleasure to delve into. The episode titled Talking About the Blues exemplifies the depth of the music and cultural context found throughout the series (above, Big Bill Broonzy, one of my favorites).

Judge John Hodgman - The comedian/writer host is a middle-aged eccentric with a lush mustache and a distinctive worldview.  If you can handle a fair dose of hipster geekery, try out one of these entertaining mock trials based on:
"real life disputes on issues such as: 
-is chili a soup or a stew? 
-is this room in my house called an “office” or a “den” or “a room full of junk.” 
-when is it may someone else’s Chinese food be legally considered abandoned property?  
-is it OK to rifle through the trash for prize coupons in a Canadian pizza parlor? 
-is a machine gun a robot?  
Then I tell the disputants who is right and who is wrong." 
It's good fun (if not Maximum Fun) but be prepared to suffer through some adolescent cackling.  You do it for Click and Clack, don't you?

A little more about J. Hodgman from the multi-talented Steven Weinberg via Brooklyn Based

Enjoy...and tell me: What podcasts are you enjoying lately?