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Arts & Culture

American Masters: Cachao: Uno Mas

Grammy-winning bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez
Courtesy of © 2005 by Jakub Mosur
Grammy-winning bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez

Airs Monday, September 20, 2010 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

AMERICAN MASTERS takes a fascinating look at the Grammy-winning bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez, who died in March 2008 in Coral Gables, Florida. The film is produced and narrated by friend and ardent fan, actor Andy Garcia, who helped reinvigorate Cachao’s career in the 1990s.

A maestro of legendary status on the world stage, Cachao is considered one of the greatest Afro-Cuban musicians of all time. Together with his brother Orestes, he revolutionized the heart of Cuban music — first in the late 1930s, literally inventing the mambo. Their spontaneous improvisations and innovations established the basis for, and the influence of, contemporary Latin jazz and salsa, rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues.

The spine of this film is a sold-out 2005 concert at Bimbo’s 365 Club, a famous San Francisco nightclub. Woven throughout the film, which is shot with nine cameras and bathed in warm lighting with pitch-perfect sound recording and mixing, is Cachao reminiscing over lunch with Garcia and the saxophonist Ray Santos about his remarkable musical journey.


Other voices, including Cachao’s daughter Elena, and fellow musicians such as Gloria and Emilio Estefan, shed light on the Cuba from which he came and his eight-decade contribution to world music. One of the film’s many treats is Garcia, who appears playing the bongo drums.

Video Excerpt: American Masters: Cachao: Uno Mas