Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Cachao: Dos [Salsoul, 1995]
Having fallen for Sony's fib that Master Sessions was Israel Lopez's U.S. debut and then been set straight by a savvier fan's lengthy computerized list of the now 78-year-old bassist's specialty-label output, I went down to Bate Records on Delancey Street and selected two classic-looking items. The way I feel it, the perfectly listenable 1959 and 1974 sessions recycled on Kubaney's La Leyenda Vol. 1 overdo the ballroom politesse. And though it's true and crucial that politesse has never been disrespected by this vigorous old man, not even when he was revolutionizing danzon at 21, I prefer this five-track, 30-minute sample of a mid-'70s attempt to cement his legacy. The ballroom's here for sure. But so are the Havana street, the African village, the dockside joint in Anyport, Terra. The ensemble emphasis assures smooth progression from guiro to danzon to descarga to congafest as famous sidemen come and go. A-