Cachao y su Ritmo Caliente – Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions (1957)

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Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente
Descargas – Cuban Jam Sessions (1957)

Originally released by Panart as “Descargas: Cuban Jam Sessions In Miniature”. Reissued by Vampi Soul (Spain) using this title and adding extra tracks in 2005

THIS CD PRESSING: EGREM (Cuba) 1996

1. Descarga Cubana
2. Goza Me Trompeta
3. Cogele el Golpe
4. Trombon Criollo
5. Malanga Amarilla
6. Pamparana
7. Oye Mi Tres Montuno
8. Controversia de Metales
9. A Gozar Timbero
10. Sorpresa en Flauta
11. Estudio en Trompeta
12. Guajeo de Saxos

These tracks are all massive, amazing, landmark recordings. Israel “Cachao” López pretty much singlehandedly invented the Cuban upright bass by transposing the tumbao rhythm to the instrument. This pre-Revolution recording session is not only amazing 33 minutes of music but also very important historically, as it is one of the earliest examples (maybe THE earliest example) of taking themes from Cuban popular and folk musics and using them as a springboard for out and out jazz improvisation, a technique that would have reverberations far outside the island itself. According to the stories, this record was recorded almost spontaneously in the wee hours of the early morning after the musicians had finished their night’s work playing in the popular clubs and casinos of the day. (One myth even says this album was recorded after-hours at the Tropicana club, which is ridiculous – crystal clear fidelity and wide dynamic range is proof this was recorded at an actual recording studio.)

I have not heard the VampiSoul pressing of this with the extra tracks, and it seems to be out of print. They are a cool enough label but I often find their mastering to be a bit on the loud side — plus, since I know of a few cases where they have been tied up in legal wrangling over royalties, I am doubtful about what master tapes they are using sometimes. This is not a slag against VampiSoul, really: they have made all kinds of extremely rare recordings available that I would otherwise have never heard (several of which have already been featured here). But they don’t give the same kind of TLC to their releases that other reissue labels (like Soundway or Analog Africa) give with their exceptional liner notes, photos, research, and generally great sound.

This pressing was mastered in Cuba in the mid-90s and sounds quite nice to my ears. It makes no real attempt at noise reduction so you get lots of warm tape hiss when things get quiet. Me likes.

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