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Crate Digging With Christian McBride: The History Of Latin Bass, on Jazz Night

Frank Stewart
Jazz at Lincoln Center

In the Afro-Caribbean musical tradition, the essential pulse on the low end can be conjured in a single word, tumbao. But within that word, there are worlds — as we know from the shining example of bassist and bandleader Israel López Valdés, known to all as Cachao.

This episode of Jazz Night in America, which kicks off a new series called Crate Digging, is a jubilant celebration of this Latin bass legacy. We'll hear highlights of a 2006 concert by the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, spotlighting four virtuoso bassists: Rubén Rodríguez, Charnett Moffett, the late Andy González, and yes, the mighty Cachao, two years before his death at 89.

Jazz Night's host, Christian McBride, who handpicked this concert from the Jazz at Lincoln Center vault, knows a thing or two about the bass himself. But we'll join him in a spirit of discovery with this music — and in conversation with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra's founder, pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill. "Even though they all play in the same world," O'Farrill says of the four bassists on the show, "they all have such different approaches to it."


Arturo O'Farrill, piano and conductor, with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: Rubén Rodríguez, bass; Luis Bonilla, trombone; Reynaldo Jorge, trombone; Gary Valente, trombone; Douglas Purviance, trombone; Michael Rodriguez, trumpet; John Walsh, trumpet; Michael Philip Mossman, trumpet; Pablo Calogero, saxophone; Bobby Porcelli, saxophone; Erica von Kliest, saxophone; Mario Rivera, saxophone; Jimmy Delgado, percussion; Ivan Renta, saxophone; Raul Agras, trumpet; Tony Rosa, congas; Vince Cherico, drums. Special guests: Israel López Valdés (aka Cachao), bass; Andy González, bass; Charnett Moffett, bass.

Set List
(All featured guests on bass)

  • "Mas Bajo" (Tito Puente) feat. Rubén Rodríguez
  • "Caravan" (Juan Tizol) feat. Cachao
  • "Asia Minor" (Machito) feat. Andy González
  • "Vieques" (Andy Gonzalez) feat. Andy González
  • "Tricotism" (Oscar Pettiford) feat. Charnett Moffett
  • "Bajo Descarga" (Arturo O'Farrill) feat. Rubén Rodríguez, Cachao, Andy González, Charnett Moffett


Writer and Producer: Suraya Mohamed; Contributing Producer: Alex Ariff; Host: Christian McBride; Music Engineers: Rob Macomber and Jeff Rothman (JALC), Edward Gavitt (Jazz Gallery); Technical Director: David Tallacksen; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, Nate Chinen is editorial director at WBGO and a regular contributor to NPR Music.
Suraya Mohamed is a three-time Peabody Award-winning producer, sound designer and editor. She currently serves as the project manager for Jazz Night In America and is a contributing producer on the Alt.Latino podcast. She also produces NPR's holiday specials package, including Tinsel Tales, Hanukkah Lights, Toast Of The Nation, Pink Martini's Joy To The World: A Holiday Spectacular and most recently Hamilton: A Story Of US. You'll also find her work on the Tiny Desk series as either a producer or engineer.