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A Farewell Mass For Mambo Pioneer Cachao

Cuban bassist Cachao accepts his award for Best Traditional Tropical album at the 6th annual Latin Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in this Nov. 3, 2005 file photo. A family spokesman said Israel "Cachao" Lopez, 89, died in a Miami-area hospital early Saturday, March 22, 2008. Known simply as Cachao, the bass guitarist is widely credited as a pioneer of the mambo.
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian,File
Hundreds packed a Miami church Thursday for a funeral mass for mambo pioneer Israel "Cachao" Lopez.

The mass, open to the public, took place at Saint Michael's Catholic Church.

Actor Andy Garcia, who made a documentary film in 1993 about Cachao and produced several of his recordings, gave a eulogy in Spanish at the mass.

Garcia, who fondly - and respectfully - often referred to Cachao as "maestro," fought back tears during his speech.

The mass was more joyful, then solemn, befitting a man known for his exuberant music and upbeat personality.


WFOR-TV Reports: A Farewell To Cachao
"As the title indicates, the mass had a marked, danceable Afro-Cuban beat, and the hundreds of mourners who gathered in the packed church clapped along with the beat," reporter Enrique Fernandez writes movingly on Miami Herald.com. "When the image of Cuba's patron saint, the Virgin of Charity, was brought in from its Coconut Grove shrine, the swaying statue on a hand-carried litter seemed to dance to the mambo rhythms."

Other music stars in attendance included Gloria and Emilio Estefan, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, and vocalist Albita.

Hundreds attended the viewing Wednesday night for the Cuban bassist and composer. He died Saturday at age 89.

Known simply as Cachao, he was a key figure in the 1960s Latin jazz scene in New York, after he left communist Cuba.

The Grammy-winning musician had fallen ill in the past week and died surrounded by family members at Coral Gables Hospital, spokesman Nelson Albareda said.