MARCO WERMAN: We can't go to headlines today without talking about Cachaito. The Buena Vista Social Club introduced the world to long-forgotten Cuban musicians. The 1998 recording revived the careers of those older musicians, but because most of the artists were older, we've sadly had to bid many of them goodbye, from Ibrahim Ferrer to Ruben Gonzalez. Yesterday, another member of the Buena Vista roster died. Orlando ?Cachaito? Lopez was the bass player. Many bassists often sit in the background, pinning down the rhythm. Cachaito was no exception. And though it was impossible to deny that rhythm, Cachaito wasn't as sellable a character as Ibrahim Ferrer or Ruben Gonzalez, for example. But in 2001, Cachaito had his moment in the spotlight. The first track on Cachaito's self-titled recording is called ?Redencion? ? Redemption. It was Cachaito's redemption as a player, not just as the anonymous bassist for Buena Vista nor just the nephew of Cuba's elder statesman bassist, Israel ?Cachao? Lopez. The music ? the whole album ? redeemed Cachaito's experiences with many different sounds and styles. Cachaito's solo album acknowledged retro Cuban music, but then his arrangements folded in hip-hop and Caribbean dance lines played on turntables and the Hammond organ. In Cuba, this is called a ?descarga.? That translates best as a ?jam.? What made Cachaito's jams different from everyone else's, as he told me in a 2001 interview, was his open mind. Cachaito said that he never stopped investigating and researching new sounds. ?I like all kinds of rhythms and beats,? he said. ?How many beats there are in a measure, and in a song, I've always focused on that,? he explained, ?and I always loved the freedom of improvising around those beats and rhythms.?
That 2001 album was his first, and only, solo recording. Orlando ?Cachaito? Lopez died yesterday in Havana. He was 76.
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