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Five-time Grammy award winner, Israel "Cachao" Lopez recently played two nights at the Blue Note in New York City. Leading a ten-piece band, Cachao dazzled the audience with his rhythm and enthusiasm. He was introduced by his daughter and received a warm welcome. The music opened with Cachao’s bow on the bass. Consecutive solos from Kiwzo Fumero on trumpet, Rafael Palau on sax and Fedirico Brito on violin followed Cachao’s brilliant introduction. A most interesting exchange then found Brito and Cachao simultaneously bouncing their bows off their strings, which Jimmy Delgado parlayed into a timbales explosion.

The second selection, entitled "Redemption," was a joyous, moving piece. Alfredo Valdes, Jr. lit up the piano and the crowd with the first of several great solos. In a unique display of his rhythmic prowess, Cachao began to hit his bass with one hand and strike his strings with his bow in the other hand. This led to a call and response with conga great Richie Flores that culminated in Flores thumping rhythms out on Cachao’s bass and Cachao returning the favor with his bow on Flores’ congas. The vocals of Anthony Columbie and Daniel Palacio (coro) and Brito’s violin work provided a great closing to this wonderful piece of music.

The next track found Rafael Palau on clarinet for a nice change of pace. Jimmy Bosch’s trombone work was colorful on this selection and throughout the evening. His introduction on the next tune led into some great solos featuring Fumero, Palau and Brito. After Cachao’s tasty introduction to the next selection, Bosch again played a pivotal solo. Valdes then took a piano solo and he and Cachao had an engaging musical conversation. The last selection was a traditional Cuban piece that featured the beautiful voices of Columbie and Palacio as well as the sweet sound of Fumero’s trumpet and Flores amazing conga rhythms.

The evening featured a series of excellent arrangements and uplifting, courageous displays of improvisation. Cachao’s bass could have been louder, as the other instruments sometimes drowned it out. At 87 years old, Cachao does not appear to be slowing down. He will be appearing with Andy Garcia at B.B. King’s in NYC on April 25, 2006.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Israel Lopez
  • Concert Date: 3/1/2006
  • Subtitle: A Cuban Legend
  • Venue: Blue Note
  • City State Country: New York, New York, USA
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