A discographic profile of the Francisco Angel Bastar, Puerto Rican percussionist known as Kako.
Profile: Kako, Francisco Angel Bastar by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com)
Francisco Angel Bastar, '36, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico; d
29 July '94 USA) Timbales, conga and bongo player/ composer Kako was a popular Latin
bandleader in the 60s, especially in New York, Puerto Rico and Panama. An introverted
character, he began as a dancer in Old San Juan. As a percussionist he performed
with Tito Puente, Arsenio Rodríguez, Belisario López (b
7 Oct. '03, Cárdenas, Matanzas Province, Cuba; d
19 Nov. '69, NYC; wooden flute), 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 director and general manager
with the company and acted as Santiago's advisor and talent scout, introducing him
to Israel 'Cachao' López, 16-year-old Willie Colón and numerous other Latin artists.
He was also an active session musician with Alegre and worked on recordings by Conjunto
Típico Ladi, Johnny Rodríguez (older brother of Tito 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 participating in the first of a series of celebrated albums by
the Alegre All-Stars, directed by Charlie Palmieri. According to Palmieri: '...the
Alegre All-Stars was strictly a descarga band...all head arrangements...patterned
after the Cuban Jam Session
recordings (seminal '50s descarga albums)...
comprised of Alegre talent like Johnny Pacheco, Kako, Barry Rogers, Chombo Silva and
Dioris Valladares. Unlike the Fania All Stars which features vocalists, we featured
instrumentalists. Our most serious problem was finding an intro and knowing how to
end it' (quoted by Max Salazar in Latin N.Y.
In '62 Rafael 'Chivirico' Dávila (b
2 Aug. '24; d
5 Oct. '94 NYC; singer/ composer) 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 and issued nine solo albums between c
'70 to '78. In '93 Chivirico toured Colombia with Orlando Marín's four trumpet conjunto
and on 4 July '94 he and Marín performed with the Partially New Alegre All-Stars
at a reunion concert at Orchard Beach in the Bronx. The following October, Chivi
died of heart attack while watching TV.
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 am Sunday,' recalled Al Santiago. This entailed Santiago,
Palmieri and Héctor Rivera (b
26 Jan. '33 in Manhattan of Puerto Rican parentage; piano/ composer/ arranger/ bandleader/
producer) rounding-up an 18-piece 'after hours orchestra' (essentially the Alegre
All-Stars) for Kako by collecting the musicians after their Saturday night gigs and ferrying them to the studio. Personnel on the album incl. Rivera and Palmieri, piano;
Cachao, bass; Louie Ramírez, vibes; José 'Chombo' Silva, tenor sax; Osvaldo 'Chi
Hua Hua' Martínez, güiro (gourd scraper); Chivirico Dávila, vocals; and Joe Quijano,
bongo. Kako performed on The Alegre All-Stars Vol. 2 'El Manicero
'65, and Puerto Rican All-Stars Featuring Kako
an early morning jam session recorded in Puerto Rico in Feb. '63 featured 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 & Found'
and The Alegre All-Stars Vol.4 'Way Out'
He changed to Musicor Records for Live It Up
with lead vocals by Panamanian Camilo Azuquita, produced by Al Santiago, it included some
boogaloos, in fashion at the time. Also in '68, Kako played on the Santiago produced
descarga album, The Salsa All Stars
on the Salsa label, featuring Palmieri, Ramírez, Cachao, Azuquita and Pupi Legarreta,
and played conga on the collectors item Cuban Roots
(on Musicor) by Brooklyn born trombonist/ arranger/ composer Mark Weinstein, another
Santiago production, as was Kako's parting-shot on Musicor: Sock It To Me, Latino!
'68, with lead vocals by Kako's brother-in-law Meñique (Miguel Barcasnegras, also
a Panamanian), who later worked with many others and as a solo artist.
timbales with the Cesta All-Stars on the Latin jam session albums Live Jam Session
and Salsa Festival
(early '70s) on Joe Quijano's Cesta Records label. Kako embarked upon a series of
collaborations with notable Puerto Rican and Cuban artists:
Lo Ultimo En La Avenida
'71 with Ismael Rivera; the classic Ritmos y Cantos Callejeros (early '70s) with Rafael Cortijo; Siguen Pa'lante y Pa'lante
and La Máquina y El Motor
(both early '70s; latter reissued on Edenways '97) with Afro-Cuban conga player/ singer Totico (Eugenio Arango). Kako
'74 on TR Records was produced and arranged by Louie Ramírez. In '75 Kako sessioned on
Azuquita's Pura Salsa, the following year the two artists teamed-up on Union Dinamica. 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. Not 'in' with the powers
that controlled the NYC Latin music industry at the time, Kako became marginalized
and made his final recording appearances in the late '70s/ early '80s, guesting on
albums by other artists and bands, like Adalberto Santiago and Típica 73. Kako continued
to perform and put a band together in the early 90s with help from his son, percussionist
Richie Bastar, and played in Florida. He was unable to perform with the Partially New Alegre All-Stars at a reunion concert on 4 July '94, and 25 days later died
of a heart attack.
-This is one of over 130 Latin music entries written by John Child (John_Child@descarga.com) for The
Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2nd Edition, edit. Donald
Clarke; Penguin Books; 1998; 1524 pages; US$22.95, UKú16.99.
They are published on the Descarga website by kind permission of Mr. Donald Clarke.