All in the family

Aug 15, 2001 at 12:00 am

If there were a record that you could buy just from the names on the credits, this would be it. The label is World Circuit, the one that recorded Buena Vista Social Club. The producer: Nick Gold, the man with the “Midas” touch, responsible not just for the Buena Vista projects, but Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure and Cheikh Lo’s as well. The artist: Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez, bass player extraordinaire, veteran of all of the Buena Vista CDs. Cachaito is the nephew of legendary Cuban bassist, Grammy-award winner Israel “Cachao” Lopez (innovator of the mambo and descarga — Cuban jam session), and son of another legend, Orestes Lopez. While his renowned relatives left for the United States four decades ago, Cachaito remained in Cuba, where he has been performing since the 1940s as part of one of the truly legendary musical families, which boasts 35 bass players.

Heavily influenced not only by his remarkable musical family, Cachaito grew up listening to American jazz pioneers Bill Evans and Ray Brown. He also has a strong classical element to his music, crediting the time he spent listening to his father’s rehearsals with Cuba’s Orquesta Filarmonica in the 1940s and ’50s. By the 1950s, Cachaito was playing with Ruben Gonzalez. In the 1960s, he was a regular with Los Zafiros and Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna with Manual “Guajiro” Mirabel and Chocho Valdes.

Cachaito’s debut for World Circuit keeps Nick Gold’s winning streak intact with another groundbreaking recording worthy of the “Buena Vista” logo. Rather than re-create an album in the footsteps of his famous uncle, Cachaito embarks on a mission incorporating elements of jazz and Jamaican dub with Cuban descarga. One of the standout tracks is “Tumbao #5.” While its name is reminiscent of Lou Bega’s 1999 international pop smash, musically, it is eerily reminiscent of another legendary bassist: Charlie Mingus. The driving pizzicato bass and rhythm sections are a tribute to Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song.” As with other Buena Vista albums, the recording is impeccable, with standout performances by all, including guitarist Manuel Galban, violinist Pedro Depestre, flautist Polo Tamayo and even a guest appearance from South African flugelhorn player Hugh Masekela. “Cachaito” is destined to show up on the top 10 lists not just in the Cuban/Latin category, but in jazz lists as well.

E-mail comments to [email protected].