Skip to page content


About this Artist

ISRAEL "CACHAO" LOPEZ is considered by many to be the creator of mambo music. Born in 1918 in Cuba, Cachao became one of the world's leading jazz bassists and exponents of Afro-Cuban music.

Over his lifetime, Cachao has written over 3,000 danzónes - a traditional style of Cuban music - mostly for Orquesta Arcaño y sus Maravillas. He is credited with inventing the mambo in 1938, a style of Cuban music later popularized by Perez Prado.

In 1957 he revolutionized Cuban music once again by introducing jazz-like improvisation and creating what became known as descargas. This new form of jamming mixed jazz-like improvisation, Cuban idioms, and extended soloing in a loose format not seen or heard before. These Cuban jam sessions had a profound effect on the growing Latin music scene in New York. Shortly after Fidel Castro's rise to power in 1962, Cachao left Cuba for the U.S., settling in New York and performing with and influencing, among others, Tito Rodriguez and Charlie Palmieri, two of New York's most famous bandleaders of the era. Over the years Cachao has recorded with Tito Rodriguez, Charlie Palmieri, Rolando Valdez, and Gonzalo Fernandez.

After moving to Miami, he spent almost a decade with little recognition by American music fans. That changed in 1992, when actor and filmmaker Andy Garcia made a documentary about Cachao titled Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos - a title which honors Cachao's uniqueness as musician and innovator. In March of 1995, Cachao earned a Grammy for Master Sessions, Vol. 1, his successful album of descargas that came out of his collaboration with Garcia. He later released a second volume of Master Sessions which also achieved critical acclaim. His most recent disc, ¡Ahora Sí!, was released in 2004.