Monday, March 24, 2008

Eleggua and Dash

I'm listening to Cachao's "Africa Suite" right now...from "Cachao: Master Sessions Volume 2." It begins and ends with a Yoruba chant to "Eleggua" the orisha who guards, opens and closes all paths. Cristobal Diaz Ayala writes in the liner notes to the disk: "all ceremonies should start and finish with a hymn to 'Eleggua'." I want to learn more about Eleggua and Yoruba and why these traditions were so important to Maestro Cachao. I'm so grateful whoever is guarding my path led me to the music and bass playing of Israel Cachao Lopez. Somewhere in the mid 90's I went mad for him and went to see him perform as often as I could. His joy, the ease and delight in his face while his fingers plucked out those fat/funky grooves, I'm not sure if I'd ever seen anything like that before, the compositional and improvisational command mixed with this breezy Sunday promenade'd he do it? Through documentaries both by Andy Garcia and Fernando Trueba I got to hear and understand more about Cachao's deep connection to, respect and reverence for Africa...I'm trying to think of the most positive way to say this...Cachao's specific knowledge about the various regions, rhythms and traditions of West Africa always impressed upon me the need to...notice that my Latino brother Cachao knew much more about Africa than me or many of my black American family and friends did. These moments are such a blessed invitation to revisit and expand and claim kinship vs division with the global human familia. Amen and Ashe dear Cachao...I like to imagine Mingus, who loved you so, welcoming you with a freshly resined bow as the newest member of the ancestral descarga.

All last week...holy week, huh, I couldn't stop listening to pianist, Robert Glasper's cd "In My Element". The energy, grief, and praise coming out of this young goodness! The New School educated, Kangol hat wearing, Houston born and bread (what is going on in Houston??? Eric Harland??? Jason Moran??? okay, I'll get to them next week when they're here to back Charles Lloyd at Catalina's Sunday March you can't say you didn't know...) Blue Note artist appearing on more hip hop head's Itunes then...well, I don't know...all I'm wondering is how he manages to sample both a voice mail message from QTip and a few bars of "Blessed Assurance" and not sound corny...AT ALL. What freedom and joy. He closes the album blending lines from his mother's eulogy with his original composition "Tribute." His preacher talks about the "dash" between his mother's birth and death dates. The dash is what's important he says, not that she was born not that she died but that she lived. "She LIVED." The dash. I love that.

I lift up with the deepest gratitude the "dash" of Cachao's life and the force of his majestic musical journey. From Cuba to Miami to Calle 54 some serious chants to Eleggua no doubt going down...

"Cuba Linda de mi vida...Maestro Cachao siempre te recordare..."

(a couple obits:

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