Chuy Lopez. Sunday, October 24, 2004
"The bass is an instrument that in one word describes itself," says Israel "Cachao" Lopez, a virtuoso Cuban bassist considered the grandfather of salsa -- and creator of the mambo. "We're the depth of the music."
The role that the upright string bass plays is pivotal. When the instrument is plucked, the resulting deep resonant tones can swing a jazz rhythm section; when it's bowed, the sounds produced fill out a classical symphony. In Afro-Cuban music, the bass binds a complex polyrhythmic mesh of horns, strings, piano, guitars, voices and percussion that dance within a two- bar pattern called clave.