López’s “Descargas: Cuban Jam Session in Miniature” Added to National Recording Registry

The late Cachao López has earned his place in U.S. history five years after his passing at the age of 89…

Descargas: Cuban Jam Session in Miniaturethe 1957 work from the Cuba-born Grammy-winning singer who helped popularize mambo in the United States is one of the recordings chosen to be part of the National Recording Registry this year in recognition of their importance to the nation’s aural legacy.

Descargas: Cuban Jam Session in Miniature

Inspired by the all-star jam sessions that Norman Granz organized and recorded for his Jazz at the Philharmonic series, López — a titan of Afro-Cuban music — sought to accomplish something similar with his peers in Havana. He brought musicians into the studio for two early morning sessions, when they were still fully charged up from their evening’s work in nightclubs and ballrooms.

Rather than record Granz’s previous longform jams, the 12 musicians López recruited created 12 short, spontaneous “miniature” pieces, each of which highlighted key instruments and facets of Afro-Cuban music. The resulting fusion seamlessly blended African, European and American influences.

The album has had a lasting impact on Latin music, especially on the salsa style that emerged in the 1960s, and López organized many similar sessions for further albums both in Cuba and in America, where he settled after the Cuban Revolution.

Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian of Congress, with advice from the library’s National Recording Preservation Board and input from the public, each year selects 25 recordings that are least 10 years old and “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

“Congress created the National Recording Registry to celebrate the richness and variety of our audio heritage and to underscore our responsibility for long-term preservation, to assure that legacy can be appreciated and studied for generations,”  Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement.

The latest selections bring the number of recordings in this preservation hall of fame to 375.

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