Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Orlando Cachaito López, 76, Bassist, Dies

February 11, 2009
Orlando Cachaito López, 76, Bassist, Dies

HAVANA (AP) — Orlando Cachaito López, the bassist considered the heartbeat of the Cuban group Buena Vista Social Club, died here Monday. He was 76.

The cause was complications of prostate surgery, said Manuel Galbán, a Cuban musician who played with Mr. López for decades.

Mr. López was a founding member of the band, a group of older Cuban musicians brought together in the 1990s by the American guitarist and producer Ry Cooder. The group included Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González and Omara Portuondo.

Later, the filmmaker Wim Wenders showcased their talents, which had been all but forgotten, in the documentary “Buena Vista Social Club.” The band, which plays a mix of traditional Cuban rhythms, saw its renown grew as it toured internationally.

But it has lost many of its members. Mr. González, a pianist; and the vocalists Mr. Segundo (born Máximo Francisco Repilado Muñoz), Mr. Ferrer and Pio Leyva have all died in recent years.

Mr. López was also a star independent of Buena Vista. His groundbreaking debut album, “Cachaito,” won a BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music in 2002.

Born in Havana in 1933, Mr. López hailed from a family of at least 30 bass players, including his uncle, the well-known Israel Cachao López. Mr. López’s nickname translates to “Little Cachao.” His father, Orestes, played piano and cello as well as bass and was also a composer.

Mr. López originally played the violin but, as he said many times, eventually switched to the bass after his grandfather urged him to take up the family trade.

Mr. López was a pioneer of Cuban mambo, and by 17 was part of a noted big band group known as Riverside. He later joined Cuba’s national symphony and played with a band called Los Zafiros.

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