August 26th, 2010
Cachao: Uno Más
About the Film

Lea en español.

The Grammy-winning bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez died in Coral Gables, Florida in March 2008, almost 90-years old. A maestro of legendary status on the world stage and ultimately considered one of the greatest Afro-Cuban musicians of all time, he had made his home in the United States for the past four decades. Coming from a family of classical musicians, he had formal conservatory training and held a seat in the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra for 30 years, performing under the direction of all of the legendary international conductors of the time – beginning at age 10! American Masters pays tribute to the Father of Mambo in the series’ bilingual film, Cachao: Uno Más premiering Monday, September 20, 2010 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The film is produced, narrated and illuminated by the actor Andy Garcia, a close friend and ardent fan, who helped re-establish Cachao’s career in the ‘90s. Among the film’s many treats is Garcia playing the bongos with Cachao.

Watch a preview:

Currently in its 24th season, American Masters is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

“Cachao’s stature is peerless,” says Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters, a seven-time winner of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Primetime Non-Fiction Series. “There are few who have come close to his legacy. What American Masters does best is to capture an artist’s creative process. It’s extraordinary to see Cachao’s impeccable improvisations on stage and in the studio.” The heart of the film is a sold-out 2005 concert at Bimbo’s 365 Club, a famous San Francisco nightclub. Shot with nine cameras, bathed in warm lighting, with pitch-perfect sound recording and mixing, Cachao’s infectious warmth and musical genius is palpable. Woven throughout the film is Cachao reminiscing about his remarkable life over lunch with Garcia and saxophonist Ray Santos. Other voices, including Cachao’s daughter Elena, his driver, and fellow musicians such as percussionist and historian John Santos and Gloria and Emilio Estefan, shed light on his near nine-decade contribution to world music. As Garcia says, “You can put [Cachao] right next to Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and Charlie Parker. That’s the lexicon of the names that he’s up there with.”

“I think we would be a less rich musical country if we were not to really embrace and applaud and enjoy the music Cachao has contributed to the world and most definitely to America,” notes Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Gloria Estefan.

Cachao: Uno Más takes viewers from his start as a child prodigy in Cuba to his personal struggles in Vegas to his triumph as a world-class composer. A classical musician by day, he always had a double life at night, playing the Havana clubs and dance halls with his brother Orestes. Together, they revolutionized the heart of Cuban music – first in the late 1930s, literally inventing the mambo from the stately Cuban danzón – and later in the 1950s, at highly electric descargas cubanas – Cuban jam sessions – their spontaneous improvisations and innovations laid the groundwork for contemporary Latin jazz and salsa, rock ‘n roll and rhythm and blues. Around this time, Cachao wrote “Chanchullo” which contained the signature hook appropriated in Tito Puente’s classic hit “Oye Como Va,” later made popular in Carlos Santana’s hit crossover cover.

Cachao became an exile shortly after Fidel Castro came into power in 1962. He relocated to New York and played with leading Latin bands. As the ‘70s wore on, his life hit a sour note in Vegas, where he headlined casinos and battled his growing gambling habit.

Eventually, he settled in Miami as a forgotten artist, playing for tips at local venues. He slowly slipped into obscurity in the ‘80s until Garcia helped revive an appreciation of Cachao and his music and reinvigorated his career in the ‘90s. Their musical collaboration culminated in a series of Grammy-winning albums, cementing Cachao’s well-deserved recognition in the industry.

In his final years, Cachao received numerous honors including a Hispanic Heritage Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame and an induction into the Smithsonian Institute. In the words of John Santos, “Underlying his consummate professional demeanor, he [was] a sage and poker-faced philosopher…warmth, humor and humility [were] his trademarks.”

American MastersCachao: Uno Más, a production of DOC Film Institute of San Francisco State, is directed by Dikayl Rimmasch and produced by Andy Garcia, Tom Luddy, Stephen Ujlaki and Anay Tarnekar in association with THIRTEEN for American Masters and Latino Public Broadcasting for PBS. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters. American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Jack Rudin, Elizabeth Rosenthal in memory of Rolf W. Rosenthal, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers.

  • Michael Master

    We used to watch more PBS TV when you offered a Reminder service. Please reintroduce that feature to promote viewership. Thank you, Michael Master

  • barent

    great start. 15 min. into docu. i just wish we would get away from comparisons to other musicians. who is better,who influenced whom. it becomes a
    kind of gratuitous cultural grandstanding,that is so tiresome and unnecessary. these are great artists,human beings ,not demi-gods,great musicians.

  • L. Libah Cobb

    Wow,my father and i really enjoyed this documentary. I have danced mambo and salsa for over 5 years. it is wonderful to know the history of this music.
    L. Libah(pronounced Lee-ba) Cobb
    PS My first introduction to this music was thru Carlos Santana from Woodstock

  • Rick Bodette

    I watched the film….VERY well done!!!!!! I love his music! Will this be available on DVD and or Blu-Ray? Thanks.

  • Aldo

    What a legend! and to make it more so, first as a human being and then as a musician.
    I’m planning on watching it again someday with my daughter. And probably a few times more with other family and friends. A complete hero!

  • Carina

    Hi, 1. I am wanting to buy this episode of American Masters. 2. Is it in English as seen tonite, or in Spanish ? Please reply to both, thanks, Carina

  • George Atanous

    Thank you for a great history of Mambo and other Latin beats. Please let me know if you have the DVD in your store. Thank you again.
    George Atanous
    September 20, 2010 at 10.36 pm

  • Migdia Chinea

    Thanx to the producers of Cachao an American Master. Migdia Chinea

  • Menelva

    I wish I had seen him in person and danced to his music, energy, and genius.

  • Luz Rivera

    This was truly an amazing film to watch. I was very happy to see that Andy Garcia became a friend and a fan and was able to bring recognition to such a gifted musician. This film brought tears to my husbands eyes who has always been a fan of Cachao. I was also happy to see thru the words of those who knew him that he was a very humble man. I salute Cachao the great musician and thank Andy Garcia for bringing us this beautiful tribute about the man and his music.

  • Michael

    If words can say it..amazing and wonderful-thank you!

  • Jose Garcia

    Please note the additional dates/times when the event can be seen again. Thank you.

  • Gayle Marshall

    How can I purchase a dvd of the documentary Cachao: Uno Mass? I’d like to give them as Christmas presents to family and friends.

  • Joyce Crespo

    CACHAO: Very well documented. Inspiring and refreshing. He is truly a MASTER! We are losing our musical legends.

  • Laurana

    Will they have a repeat shoing of this film? Let me know the date and time.

  • johnnie Simpson

    Glad to see the founders of Latin jazz Mambo and Salsa getting some recognition.
    Loved the show Felt like I was back in the Hunts Point Palace ( Johnnie from Beacon)

  • Maria Seeler

    Fantastic documentary! As a Cuban-American, I thank you for airing this on GPBS.

  • Ian Abbott

    Can we purchase the DVD?

  • EMS

    I also would like to know if we can purchase the DVD. My husband is a huge fan of Cachao and I would love to purchase it for him as a gift.

  • Charlie

    I would love to purchase this dvd to give as a gift to a dear friend. Please let me know when it is for sale. Thank-you it was a truly wonderful documentary.


    Is the DVD of Cachao : Uno Mas available yet ? Thanks

  • Harold Davis, MD

    Cachao has been the foundational force and inspiration for Afro-Cuban music that has captured the hearts and souls of millions. He will be remembered as a singularly gifted artist, and should be revered as an icon of humanity.

  • Adam Bhala Lough
  • Leyla T. Rosario

    Incredible doc! Thanks to my dad, I grew up listening to Cachao and this hits home.

  • Jerome

    I am huge fan of Cachao’s music which I find inspirational. Unfortunately, I have been able to see the video which is inaccessible at the moment. Can I purchase it from the website?

  • Lucho in SEA

    I am also a huge fan of Cachao. I grew up with my father listening to his music. Our home was always full of musci from Cachao, Perez Prado, Celia Cruz, Orchestra Aragon and many others from the Cuban music beat. I have such happy memories of this great music. Thank you Mr. Lopez filling our home with your sounds.

  • William

    Missed the Cachao Uno Mas episode.When will it air again?


Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2015 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.