Friday, March 28, 2008

Long Live the King

In Washington, DC while working on an upcoming project and my cell phone rings.   I answer in the usual manner, knowing the caller but not the purpose of the call.  Before we can recite our common salutations, Luis Rios, my photo editor, insert a statement that would ursher in memories and expel any hope of denial.  In an assertive and calm voice he says “Cachao has died.  He died late last night and I wanted you to know."  Luis had just arrived to work and editing photos while balancing the needs of the news of Cachao’s death.  I, however, was suspended somewhere between reality and memories, as he excused himself from our phone conversation to attend to the breaking news and other newsroom chores.

Fingers frozen in mid key strokes, my mind went into "Google"search prompting photo after photo, moment after moment, and the fond memories of our thirteen-year relationship .  I met Israel"Cachao"Lopez on assignment at Emilio Estafan’s Cresent Moon Studios in Miami, Florida back in 1995.  I photographed the "El Maestro", the name he was often called during recording sessions, at recording studios in both Miami and Los Angeles, and at various concert venues in the South Florida area.  To hear him record was magical, but to hear him play on stage, to a crowded audience regardless of the venue, was divine.  God has blessed me several times in my life.  One of those blessing was definitley meeting and documenting part of the artistic reign of the "The Mambo King", the late great Israel"Cachao"Lopez. 

Cachao always surrounded himself with the best.  He is, and always will be a musical artistic magnet.  He attracts only individuals who understands and shares his work ethic, his kindness, and artistry.  He teaches without oration, he challenges us all to be the best in ourselves by finding our own divine voice, but what I will always remember is his leadership.  It is easy to be an artist when you are in favor.  Cachao, however, has kept his diginity intact never diluting his art for the quest of fame.

Has the world lost another Master? I say no.  Instead the world has gained a King.  His polished crown shines for all to see.  His music transcend all human, cultural, and political barriers.  We are better because we have gathered before him.  I will shed no tear of lost, but will cry a river of gratitude. Thank you, Cachao.

Long live the King.

Long live the King.