Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Francisco Angel Bastar, '36, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico; d 29 July '94, USA) Popular Latin bandleader of the 60s, also a composer. He began as a dancer; he played percussion with Tito Puente, Arsenio Rodríguez, Belisario López (b 7 Oct. '03, Cárdenas, Matanzas Province, Cuba; d 19 Nov. '69, NYC; played wooden flute) and Mongo Santamaría, among others. He formed his own combo mid-'50s and made two 78s on the SMC label, joining Alegre Records '58 (founded '56 by Al Santiago) and among his earliest recordings on the label was the single 'Tributo A Cortijo' (Rafael Cortijo). Kako became artistic dir. and general manager at Alegre, Santiago's adviser and talent scout, introducing him to Israel 'Cachao' López, 16- year-old Willie Colón and numerous others; he sessioned with Conjunto Típico Ladi, Johnny Rodríguez, Mon Rivera, Felipe Rodríguez and others. He made his album debut on Alegre with Kako y su Combo Vol. I '61, the same year contributing to the first of the celebrated albums by the Alegre All-Stars, directed by Charlie Palmieri, a descarga band patterned after the seminal Cuban Jam Session albums of the '50s, but unlike the Fania All-Stars featuring in- strumentalists rather than vocalists. In '62 Rafael 'Chivirico' Dávila (b 2 Aug. '24; d 5 Oct. '94 NYC) sang lead vocals on both Kako y su Combo Vol. II and the classic Se Te Quemo La Casa by Orlando Marín and his orchestra: Dávila worked with many other artists, issued nine solo albums c'70--78, toured Colombia '93 with Marín's four- trumpet conjunto and performed mid-'94 with Marín and the Partially New Alegre All-Stars at a reunion concert at Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

In '65 Kako recorded the classic Tributo A Noro in homage to his friend, the revered bandleader/pianist/composer Noro Morales, who had died the previous year. 'We decided on the Noro project on a Saturday afternoon and started recording at 5 a.m. Sunday,' recalled Al Santiago. This entailed Santiago, Palmieri and pianist/composer Héctor Rivera (b 26 Jan. '33, Manhattan) rounding up an 18-piece 'after hours orchestra' (essentially the Alegre All-Stars) for Kako by ferrying the musicians after their Saturday-night gigs to the studio; personnel incl. Rivera and Palmieri, piano; Cachao, bass; Louie Ramírez, vibes; José 'Chombo' Silva, tenor sax; Osvaldo 'Chi Hua Hua' Martínez, g]auu[iro (gourd scraper); Chivirico Dávila, vocals; and Joe Quijano, bongo. Kako performed on The Alegre All-Stars Vol. 2 'El Manicero' c'65, and Puerto Rican All-Stars Featuring Kako c'65, an early- morning jam session made in Puerto Rico in Feb. '63 incl. members of El Gran Combo (incl. leader/pianist Rafael Ithier); Mario Ortiz, trumpet; Chivirico, Johnny Rodríguez and Paquito Guzmán, vocals and Palmieri (singing chorus!). Kako also participated in The Alegre All-Stars Vol. 3 'Lost And Found' and The Alegre All-Stars Vol. 4 'Way Out' (mid-'60s). He changed to Musicor Records for Live It Up '68, with lead vocals by Panamanian Camilo Azuquita, prod. by Al Santiago, it incl. some boogaloos, in fashion at the time.

Also in '68, Kako played on the Santiago- prod. descarga album, The Salsa All Stars on the Salsa label, featuring Palmieri, Ramírez, Cachao, Azuquita and Pupi Legarreta, and played conga on the collector's item Cuban Roots (on Mu- sicor) by Brooklyn-born trombonist/arranger/composer Mark Weinstein, another Santiago production, as was Kako's parting shot on Musicor Sock It To Me, Latino! (late '60s), with lead vocals by Kako's brother-in-law Meñique (Miguel Barcasnegras, also a Panamanian). Kako played timbales with the Cesta All-Stars on the Latin jam session albums Live Jam Session (late '60s) and Salsa Festival (early '70s) on Joe Quijano's Cesta label. Kako's collaborations with notable Puerto Rican and Cuban artists incl. Lo Ultimo En La Avenida '71 with Ismael Rivera, the classic Ritmos y Cantos Callejeros (early '70s) with Rafael Cortijo and Siguen Pa'lante y Pa'lante (early '70s) with Afro- Cuban conga player/singer Totico (Eugenio Arango). Kako '74 on TR was prod./arr. by Louie Ramírez. Kako sessioned on Azuquita's Pura Salsa '75 and they teamed up on Union Dinamica '76. He reconvened with the Alegre All-Stars on their 17th anniversary album, Perdido '77; in the late '70s he played bongos with the Machito band. Lacking influence, he was marginalized and made his final recordings in the late '70s/early '80s, guesting on albums by e.g. Adalberto Santiago and Típica 73. He continued performing in Florida in the early '90s, putting a band together with help from his son, percussionist Richie Bastar; but he was too ill to appear at a reunion of the Alegre All-Stars in July '94.