Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Cachao: Master Sessions Volume 1 [Crescent Moon/Epic, 1994]
Israel Lopez is a 76-year-old contrabassist credited with bringing the jam to Cuba and the mambo to the world. He has lived in the U.S. since 1962. Yet this is his his first major-label album. So thank Emilio Estefan and Andy Garcia for capturing a genius even a salsa agnostic like me can't ignore, but don't bet the follow-up will ever stick its head out of the can. Working with Paquito D'Rivera, NÚstor Torres, Chocolate Armenteros, et al., Cachao cut 30 tunes one week last May, and these 12 alone run over 76 minutes. Far less hectic than New York salsa, often with a stately charanga feel, they respect Cachao's roots in the old danzon tradition, but the youngbloods' heat and surface motion stimulate a veteran or more Miami weddings and bar mitzvahs than he can count. The notes claim all the tunes are stone classics, and this agnostic believes. A-