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We Remember Cachao
Sunday, April 5th, 2009
March 22nd marked a year since his passing and on April 5th 2009 "Very Truly Yours Consultants Inc." changed it up a bit and dedicated this "Sunday Serenade" to the memory of one of the most influential Cuban musicians of his generation "Mr. Israel Cachao Lopez". Kevin Prendergast who captures these "Sunday Serenades" on video and is no stranger to Latin music having been around it most of his life thought this might have been the best one yet. The music was incredible and the musicians knew this was not just another "Sunday Serenade". The people who were there were treated to the highest level of Afro Cuban music possible and they loved it.

Nat and Arnie have an uncanny ability to pick the right artist to have participate in these "Sunday Serenades" and the choice of Cuban pianist Elio Villafranca was just another example of why these concerts are so special. We knew that Elio would put together a band that would represent Cachao with the dignity and respect that this master rightfully deserves and did he ever. With Jay Rodriguez on Tenor and Flute, Yunior Terry on bass, Anthony Carillo on Conga, Marvin Diz on Timbales and Elio Villafranca on Piano this ensemble let everyone know that they were here at the BassLine to take care of some serious business. Not only was the music great, but Mr. Villafranca gave an oral presentation of the history of Cuban music from its past to the present and the audience loved it. Four of the compositions preformed were composed for this concert by Elio himself. Elio, Marvin and Yunior are all from Cuba and are classically trained musicians just like Cachao. One could hear the classical influence that Afro Cuban music has and how it parallels New Orleans music.

The concert opened with an Elio original called "Danzon Chao". Danzon is the National music of Cuba. Each member of the band was given solos and you could feel that they were going to take you on a spirited journey that you might never want to come back from. The second composition was "Aqui La Malanga" by an unknown composer because in those days no one knew about copyright laws. Solos by Yunior with Elio interjecting questions and Yunior answering him were so beautifully done that one knew that these two artists were very familiar with one another. Jay's solo on flute was full of fire and feeling that had the rhythm section smiling and inspired. Elio's solo was outstanding and was filled with polyrhythms that had the audience ready to leap out of their seats. The next tune was another Elio original called "Calle Paula". This was a beautiful ballet with an equally beautiful intro by Elio. Jay's solo on flute was accompanied by Yunior's bowing that had all members of the band smiling with their approval. The next tune had Elio at the microphone chanting with Anthony and sometimes Anthony letting his Conga's do the talking while Yunior was slapping the bow against the strings. The first set closed out with another Elio original called "M.S. Blues". This composition had a contemporary feeling that reminded this listner of McCoy Tyner. Jay's tenor work was full of fire and imagination and you could see Jay was right at home on this piece.

The second set opened up with "La Mulata Rumbera" composed by Alejandro Rodriguez. This tune featured a fabulous solo by Marvin Diz that had the sticks come off the skins with such grace. Marvin is one of the gentlest Timbale players I have ever seen and someone that you will be hearing a lot from. Elio's solo was another example of a master at work. He definitely is a two handed piano player and watching him you know these hands are equal and not one handed dominant. Yunior's solo on bow was outstanding and one that captured the spirit that was of Cachao. "Cogelo Suave" another Elio original gave all the members in this band solos that won't soon be forgotten. Elio gave an intro for Jay's tenor work followed by Elio's solo with Yunior at times accompanying him while answering Elio's left hand with some interesting remarks that had both musicians smiling and enjoying the conversation. Yunior's solo after that was so spirited that he had his bass singing and dancing and an audience just shaking their heads. Anthony and Marvin had some interesting discussions going on themselves and it was such a joy to hear these wonderful percussionists communicating with one another instead of trying to outdo each other.

There were so many highlights that make you understand how important it is to capture this music live and hear it for yourself. Elio, Yunior, Jay, Marvin and Anthony were all something to behold. Anthony and Marvin had such chemistry that it was no wonder seeing these master percussionists smiling at one another all afternoon. Yunior's work on the bass was nothing less than sensational. Jay's work on flute and tenor was superb and Elio's piano and oral presentation was in a class all by itself. I'm sure that Cachao was quite satisfied with what took place.
- Arnie Perez
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