Sunday, March 23, 2008

Israel Lopez, Inventor of the Mambo, Dies at Age 89

(Bebo Valdes and Israel "Cachao" Lopez - "Lagrimas Negras")

Israel Lopez, the Cuban bassist and composer who, along with bandleader Damaso Perez Prado, is credited with inventing the style of music known as the "Mambo", has died at the age of 89. Lopez, who was known universally by his nickname "Cachao", passed away at Coral Gables Hospital as the result of complications from kidney failure. Arguably the most important figure in Cuban music, Lopez created the style of mambo by adding an open-ended improvisation to the traditional Cuban daizon and incorporating the horns from big band.

At the top of the post, you'll find two videos of Lopez performing with fellow mambo progenitor Bebo Valdes. As a bassist, I can honestly say that Lopez had some serious chops and will be deeply missed. The fact that he was still performing well into his eighties is incredibly impressive.

Read the LA Times Obituary here.
Read the Wikipedia entry on Mambo here.

And, since this is a indie music blog and everything, there is a video of David Byrne's track "Make Believe Mambo", from his solo album Rei Momo:

Also, finally, because it seems appropriate, here's the mambo from "West Side Story":

Israel Lopez MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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