For those who didn’t hear the news that practically got shut out from all major media coverage (besides a small obit in the New York Times and a blurb on pitchfork), Cuban bass legend “Cachaito” Lopez passed away a couple weeks back from complications due to prostate surgery. My latest Llano Idea article will be covering his death in more detail, but for now here is an excerpt:
If you are unfamiliar with López personally, you might know him as being the bassist of the famed Cuban supergroup The Buena Vista Social Club. Due to the efforts of guitarist, producer, and world renown always willing collaborator Ry Cooder (Rolling Stones, jazz legend Earl Hines, even the motherfucking Chieftains), the BVSC was formed by plucking former Cuban musician legends out of obscurity and placing them into a Havana studio to record an LP. Well crafted and an overall pleasant listen, Buena Vista’s album put Cuba back on the map and created “Cubamania” worldwide – selling out venues everywhere from Amsterdam to New York City. Twelve years later and over eight million records sold, Buena Vista’s self-titled LP became, in one critic’s opinion, “world music’s equivalent of The Dark Side of the Moon.”
Never having the charisma of lead singer Ibrahim Ferrer or tres player Compay Segundo, López made up for his lack of a stage presence by exuding a deep musical understanding unparalleled by any of his band members. Being raised in a household where his father played bass, his grandfather played bass, and, if rumor is true, thirty of his family members played bass, López certainly had the pedigree that breeds musical expertise and creativity. Boasting an ability to sight-read anything as well as having a knack of “always knowing what other people will play before they play it”, López was one of the best improvisers on the planet.
Here is a video to display López’s great improvisational skills: