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Ay, Cuba!

You really ought to catch Cuban musician Israel Lopez -- a.k.a. Cachao – right now. Homeboy is 87. Then again, one critic who saw his show wrote, “Cachao on tour amazes in many ways, one being how a seemingly frail older gentleman can become a suddenly energized musician on top of his game.”

Cachao, a composer and bass player, is known for revolutionizing Cuban music by introducing fast, syncopated rhythms to traditional salsa, specifically in his 1939 song “Mambo.” The mambo ignited a dance craze in the nation, and trickled up to North America to infect guys like Dizzie Gillespie, who then came to dig Afro-Cuban music.

By 1993 Cachao had made his way to Miami. He was just bumping around, playing weddings, when actor – and percussionist – Andy Garcia invited him to California to record. The studio time resulted in an album, Master Sessions Volume I, which won a Grammy, and earned Cachao a Billboard award for “Best New Artist.” Around this time, Garcia also honored Cachao by releasing a film of him in concert, Cachao . . . Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos (Like His Rhythm There Is No Other). Today, the two old friends and heavyweights reunite for a concert at the James L. Knight Center (400 Se Second Ave., Miami) at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $49 to $99. Call 954-523-3309, or visit
Fri., April 21

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