Kako & His Orchestra

A popular timbalero, bandleader, and occasional label executive for Alegre Records, Kako recorded as a leader only sparingly, but contributed much to the development of Latin music from his debut in the 1950s to the end of the century. Born Francisco Bastar in San Juan’s Barrio Obrero, Kako worked as a dancer early on and began playing percussion — including timbales, conga, and bongo — for bands led by Arsenio Rodriguez, Tito Puente, and Mongo Santamaria. He recorded a single for the SMC label in the late ’50s, and soon after began an association with the new Alegre imprint. Founded by Al Santiago, the label hired Kako for A&R and management work; he also played on the label’s early recordings by Mon Rivera, Felipe Rodriguez, and Johnny Rodriguez.